Over the next four years, EUR800m will be spent at Saarbruecken, the lead location of ZF's transmission technology, the Tier 1 supplier announced.

With this investment, the location "will be made fit" for the transition from conventional to electric car drives.

"The share of hybrid drives in production will increase tenfold over the next few years – from five to 50%," said Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen.

The supplier is spending EUR3bn worldwide on new products and its production network for transmission technology.

At Saarbruecken, ongoing electrification of the powertrain is both an opportunity and a challenge.

"We see the increasing market penetration of advanced hybrid drives as an opportunity, which in our view is much more than just a bridge technology," said Scheider.

"With longer ranges between 80km and 100km, they can complete the majority of all journeys electrically and thus help e-mobility to achieve a breakthrough more quickly."

Order books show the hybrid technology is in great demand, the supplier said. In Saarbruecken, the lead location for transmission technology, ZF will spend around EUR800m over the next four years on production plants and systems, infrastructure, and its supplier network.

If the development towards pure electromobility progresses as currently forecast in several studies, sales and thus also the workforce at the Saarbruecken plant will, however, decline in the long term.

In view of this development, ZF has launched a number of activities in Saarbrücken that are intended to significantly increase the plant's international competitiveness.

These include a series of IoT projects. These initiatives use artificial intelligence (AI) to provide quick and valuable decision-making aids for employees and thus increase efficiency.

"The fact these effects will only occur in a few years' time gives us the opportunity to prepare for them today," said Stephan von Schuckmann, head of the car powertrain technology division.

"We want to prepare our employees for the mobility of the future with a wide range of training and qualification opportunities and more agile work structures."