ZF on Thursday said its revenue increased 7% in 2006 to $US15.37 (EUR11.64bn).

"ZF is right on course for the future," said departing ZF CEO Siegfried Goll at the company's year-end press conference in Stuttgart, Germany. Goll will retire at the end of the year, handing over to Hans-Georg Harter.

Goll's last year with ZF is one of the most successful in company history.

This year, ZF manufactured approx. 970,000 six-speed automatic transmissions, while overall automatic transmission production exceeded 1m units.

The driveline technology division produced 1.8m dual mass flywheels and other components. The car chassis technology division manufactured over 1.6m passenger car and light truck axle systems worldwide in 2006.

Production of electronic CDC (continuous damping control) suspension systems reached 845,000 units. Production of electric power steering systems for passenger cars totalled 1.6m units. Annual production of the AS Tronic automatic transmissions for commercial vehicles reached 56,500 units, up 18% from 2005. The company also reported significant growth in bus axle system sales, as well as construction machinery production.

ZF further improved its international market position in 2006. Production was launched at a chassis component plant in Newton, North Carolina.  In China, the new ZF Drivetech (Hangzhou) subsidiary was established and is currently manufacturing heavy-duty truck transmissions.

Since mid-2006, ZF Transmissions Shanghai has been producing automatic car transmissions for the Chinese market. ZF Lenksysteme started producing steering systems this year at its plant in Jinan. The number of ZF production sites in China now totals 18.  ZF is also expanding the capacity of the engineering centre in Shanghai where the number of employees will increase from 22 to 70 by 2010.

In Adelaide, Australia, a new axle assembly plant launched series production for GM Holden.

Overall, the company's workforce increased only slightly (1%) over 2005, to 55,400.

Preliminary annual sales figures for the ZF divisions in 2006 are : ZF car driveline technology division up 3% to $2.1bn.

The car chassis technology division reported a 10% rise to $3.0bn.

Commercial vehicle and special driveline technology boosted sales 7% to $2.35bn.

Sales at off-road driveline technology and axle systems rose 18% to $2.21bn.

Powertrain and suspension components reported sales up 2% to $2.77bn.

ZF Lenksysteme increased sales 5% to $1.55bn.

Final 2006 figures will be announced in April 2007.

ZF said prospects for the coming year differ significantly from region to region.

Declining sales are anticipated in the North American market, especially in the heavy commercial vehicle segment.

By contrast, substantial increases are forecast for the Asian-Pacific region, fuelled primarily by China and India.

"Driven by high consumer demand on individual markets and production outsourcing by vehicle manufacturers, extremely positive developments are expected for the eastern European market," the supplier noted, adding: "ZF forecasts moderate growth in Western Europe for the coming year."