Automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen said on Thursday it boosted worldwide sales 7% during 2005 to US$12.8bn (EUR10.7bn).

The increase was attributed to new developments in driveline and chassis technology, and an upswing in the commercial vehicle and construction machinery markets.

ZF CEO Siegfried Goll said: "ZF outperformed the market again this year. We managed to strengthen our international position, particularly in our core business segments of driveline and chassis technology for passenger cars and commercial vehicles."

Several key innovations played a major role in the company's success in 2005.  More than 885,000 six-speed automatic transmissions were sold to vehicle manufacturers, along with 1.35 million units of a new electronic steering system for the Volkswagen Golf and Passat, and more than 1.2 million axle systems were produced for passenger cars.

ZF also announced a partnership with Continental Teves, to produce a comprehensive range of hybrid driveline and chassis products. It is also developing a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for sports cars.

ZF opened four companies in China during 2005 and launched new operations in Australia, Russia and the US. The ZF technical Center in Detroit was expanded and now includes ZF Sachs engineering operations, while a new technical centre is currently under construction in Shanghai, China.

For 2006, ZF anticipates only moderate growth based on the forecasts for North America and Europe.

It expects worldwide passenger car and light commercial vehicle production to increase by only around 2%, with growth primarily in China, India and Korea.

Commercial vehicles are seen stable at current levels.

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