ZF Group has announced an 8 percent sales increase for the first quarter of 2004 compared to the same period in 2003. The company reported sales of $2.8 billion (euro 2.4 billion) and expects 5 percent growth this year over 2003 sales figures. This growth is attributed to investment in new products and technologies during the past few years that will play a key role in 2004 sales performance.

ZF reported increases from several divisions:

* The Car Driveline Technology division reported a 9 percent increase, due to full-scale production of 6-speed automatic transmissions being featured on more vehicles, including the BMW 5 and 6-series, as well as the new Audi A6

* The Car Chassis Technology division increased sales by 3 percent with new contracts for BMW X3 axles in Austria, and axle assemblies in China

* Sales in the Commercial Vehicle and Special Driveline Technology division increased by 11 percent

* The Off-Road Driveline Technology and Axle Systems division posted a 7 percent increase due to better-than-expected performance in the construction machinery market in North America and Asia

* Sales in the Powertrain and Chassis Components division increased by 8 percent due to production start-up of CDC (continuous damping control) units for the Opel Astra, and continued production on the Ford F150

* ZF Steering Systems posted an increase of 25 percent during the first quarter due to series production launch of electric steering on the Volkswagen PQ35 platform — Golf, Touran, Audi A3, and others; and increased orders for Active Steering on the BMW 5 and 6 series.