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ZF expresses confidence about auto industry's future in China

By CAO YINGYING | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-26 09:12
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ZF operates more than 50 plants, four R&D centers and 240 after-sales service centers in China. [Photo/China Daily]

Global technology company ZF remains bullish about the Chinese market, pledging continued investment, innovation and localization efforts in the world's largest auto market, its CEO said at the China Development Forum on Sunday in Beijing.

"China is one of the most important players in the global automotive industry and one of the few continuously growing markets. In recent years, it has become the home for ZF's global products and technologies," said Holger Klein, chairman and CEO of ZF Group.

"We are transforming with the trend of electrification, automated driving and software-defined vehicles, and are working with our partners in China on cutting-edge technologies. The demand from the market for more advanced technologies underlines the importance of innovation."

The importance of the Asia-Pacific market, with China at its center, continues to grow in ZF's global strategic map. "ZF sales in Asia-Pacific, mainly in China, currently account for about a quarter of the group's global sales, and we plan to increase this share to 30 percent by 2030," said Stephan von Schuckmann, board member of ZF Group.

In 2023, ZF's sales reached 8.1 billion euros ($8.75 billion) in China, up 5.2 percent over 2022.

New business from passenger cars in the Asia-Pacific region accounted for more than a third of the global total, while sales in the commercial vehicle sector and the aftermarket business grew rapidly, according to ZF.

Since entering the Chinese market in 1981, ZF has gone through the milestones of "sold in China", "made in China" and "developed in China". It is now on its way to "first launch in China" with the country becomes an innovation center for ZF's global products.

ZF is exploring new models of cooperation with automakers in the software sector based on cubiX, a software with the systemic solution for modularized vehicle motion control.

The Dongfeng M18 offroader, launched in 2023, features a range of chassis components and software from ZF, including Integrated Brake Control (IBC), Continuous Damping Control (CDC) and cubiX software.

ZF said that the new Chassis Solutions division will invest more on R&D in China to deliver advanced technologies and products efficiently to domestic customers.

The company's electric power solutions are also well-accepted by automakers. The Lotus Eletre SUV, launched in 2023, features ZF's new electric drive, an 800-volt power system architecture and a silicon carbide inverter for higher efficiency.

ZF's Shenyang plant in Liaoning province has also started mass production of new energy axles and electric motors for another international premium brand.

The company's Level 2 driving-assist solutions have been supplied to Geely's premium brand Zeekr from 2023, including multi-lane changing and leading memory parking assistance systems.

In December, ZF China secured its first L4 autonomous driving test license in the country, becoming the first foreign auto parts enterprise to obtain such a permit in Shanghai.

The sales of ZF Group's Electronics and ADAS Division Anting plant in Shanghai reached 5.8 billion yuan ($805 million) in 2023, surpassing 5 billion yuan for the first time.

The company began the construction on eight new plants and technology centers in 2023 nationwide, which are in Shanghai, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Zhangjiagang as well as other cities covering EPS, steering wheels, air bags, electric drive, chassis modules and axles for passenger and commercial models.

The company owns more than 50 plants, four R&D centers and nearly 240 after-sales service centers in more than 20 cities across China.

It has also joined hands with Chinese companies, such as chipmaker Horizon Robotics, software firm Neusoft Reach and NEV startups.

Renee Wang, executive vice-president of ZF Group, president of ZF China and Operation Asia-Pacific, said: "In China, whether local or international brands, there are hundreds of excellent passenger and commercial models equipped with ZF's state-of-the-art products and technologies.

"China's dynamic market, advanced supply chain, developed infrastructure, growing innovation capabilities and consumers' pursuit of smart technology all offer further growth space for ZF's continuous development," she said.

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