ZF Friedrichshafen AG is a leading worldwide supplier of driveline and chassis technology. The company was founded in 1915 in Friedrichshafen, Germany to produce gears for zeppelins and other airships but moved into the automobile market by 1918. Today with 122 facilities in 26 countries and approximately 55,000 employees worldwide, ZF provides components and systems to the automotive, commercial vehicle, off-highway/construction, marine, rail, and aviation industries.
ZF products include: automatic and manual transmissions for cars, trucks, buses and construction equipment; chassis components (ball joints, tie rods, cross-axis joints, stabilizer bars, control arms); shocks and struts; electronic damping systems including Continuous Damping Control (CDC), Active Roll Stabilization (ARS); clutches; torque converters; axle drives; and industrial drives.
In the 1960s, the company began supplying transmissions to the major German automakers, including DKW and BMW, as well as Peugeot and Alfa Romeo. A popular automatic transmission (the 3 HP 20) was introduced in 1969 which was designed to be an easy swap with the company's manual transmissions. Worldwide subsidiaries and factories were opened in the 1970s, and the company moved into India, South Korea, and became a major supplier to Ford in the 1980s. The company expanded into China in the 1990s.
In 2001, ZF introduced the world's first six-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars in the BMW 7-series. Today, ZF produces around 1 million six-speed automatic transmissions annually.
ZF Lemförder, Sachs, and Boge are all divisions of ZF specializing in original equipment and after-market solutions for the auto industry. Through the ZF Lenkysteme Division (a 50-50 joint venture between ZF and Bosch), steering components and systems are produced, including steering columns, gears and pumps; Electric Power Steering (EPS); and Active Steering.
Traditionally, ZF invests approximately 5 percent of annual sales into research and development. The company's six worldwide research and development sites are designed to provide advance technology on a regional basis.
ZF Group North American Operations is headquartered in Northville, Mich.
ZF Group Asia Pacific Operations is headquartered in Shanghai, PR China.
- Ecomat (1980–2002) — 4,5 or 6-speed with Hydraulic Retarder and Neutral on Vehicle Stop (Early examples (Pre 1994) programmed for first gear lock-up)
- Ecomat 2 (2001-present) — 4,5 or 6-speed with Hydraulic Retarder and Neutral on Vehicle Stop (Programmed for first gear lock-up)
- AS Tronic (2005-present) — 10 or 12 speed automated manual transmission
- Ecomat 4 (2006–present) — 6-speed with Hydraulic Retarder and Neutral on Vehicle Stop
- EcoLife (2006–present) — 6-speed with Hydraulic Retarder