ZF shifts gears to focus on EV technology

What are the major appliances driving orders?

Our order book consists of three components. We also get business for the individual components if the customer wants to build the system themselves. We can also build mechanical parts for BEV businesses such as transmissions.

Are you in discussions with automakers about collaborating on electrical component development and manufacturing, or are you maintaining traditional supplier-customer relationships?

Our relationship hasn’t changed that dramatically. Some even make their own. Others use suppliers. Many of these automakers are challenging transformative processes such as electrification, central computing and autonomous driving. Transform. Also, being budget (or investment driven), not all companies have the funds to cover all three aspects of transformation.

Despite the EU mandating zero-emission vehicles by 2035, inflation and rising raw material costs are calling into question the pace of EV adoption. Still confident in your predictions about the EV market?

It has two sides. Energy costs are skyrocketing here in Europe, and EVs are running less efficiently than they were a year ago, but if those costs drop, the transformation process will continue at the same rate. That also applies to production. It may slow down, but it never stops. We’ve seen what our automaker customers have planned for their platforms, and no one has said they’re not going to continue to bring vehicles to market.

What percentage of cars, trucks/buses, and industrial applications? Are many products compatible in all areas?

The percentage of sales is about 70% passenger cars, 20% trucks and 10% industrial. All these sectors are now electrified. Trucks are heavy and have high CO2 emissions, so you can imagine how much you could save. Short and medium haul travel is trending toward electrification, with many manufacturers switching to fuel cell applications for long haul travel. It’s still an EV, but it has a different form of energy. From a timing standpoint, the track side may have seen a slower change, but it has recovered dramatically and is now closer to the passenger car change.

What are you doing to ensure a stable supply of semiconductors?

At ZF, we say, “The gears of the past are the chips of the future.” It really is switching strongly towards semiconductors. Of course, we’ve had shortages in the last two years, but we’ve managed them well. Our increasing focus is on strong partnerships such as Wolfspeed, which will supply silicon carbide chips in the future. You can even go one step further and work with partners like Wolfspeed to create your own chip designs.

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