BELGIUM: ZF Friedrichshafen bounces back after economic storm
Driveline and chassis technology supplier, ZF Friedrichshafen, says it is on track to almost double revenue this year after being severely buffeted in the economic crisis.
The German manufacturer is enjoying thriving sales and is currently in the process of advanced talks with General Motors - along with Punch International - to buy the US automaker's transmissions plant in Strasbourg to meet demand for its products.
"In the crisis, ZF was severely bothered as we were very dependent on the premium market and on the heavy, commercial vehicle market," ZF Friedrichshafen CEO, Stefan Sommer, told this year's CLEPA Aftermarket Conference in Brussels.
"Both were severely hit by this crisis. It was not supported by any kind of substitution, by 'cash for clunkers' [for example] to renew the fleet. At the time we really made a question mark behind the premium car market and looked how to prepare ourselves [for] future innovation."
Evidence that ZF has well and truly turned the corner however, was also highlighted by Sommer, who added the company was due to post revenue this year of EUR17.5bn, a figure that has almost doubled.
"It is a big change," said Sommer. "We need to ramp up our volumes and it is not only our plants, but also our supply chain. We have double digit growth rates [and] are currently number nine in worldwide suppliers in terms of revenue and with most of our products, we in the top three in terms of volume."
ZF also reserved praise for European automotive supplier body, CLEPA, whose Aftermarket Conference in the Belgian capital attracted a record number of delegates today (29 November).
"CLEPA is very important and the associations that support us give us a voice and to society as well, especially when it comes to new technologies such as electronics," said Sommer. "It is really a kind of revolution in the industry - it is going to be a computer on wheels.
"We need to raise our voice and clearly define the position of the automotive supplier industry. I see a strong role of the associations - what is also important is an influence on global politics and macro-economics.
"Almost two-thirds of our revenue is in Europe - we need a strong voice also to the European Commission. We need to influence the political process, to make clear what are the parameters because everybody in Europe must care about the competitiveness of European industry, it is important to make this clear."
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