ZF TRW says it is pursuing an expansionist policy in increasing its R&D capability as it cements further the newly integrated halves of the merged companies.

The German supplier acquired the American component manufacturer last year, making the global reach of the new operation felt in 230 locations in 40 countries, with R&D a key plank of of its activities.

“We are investing pretty heavily in R&D facilities around the world,” said ZF TRW board member and EVP sales and development, Peter Lake at the supplier’s winter test track in Ardvidsjaur, North Sweden.

“For example, close to Detroit where we are expanding R&D, Yokohama and another TRW facility in Shanghai too.

“Both companies were global companies before legacy TRW and ZF. These footprints are really complementary in whatever market we choose, wherever our customers are, engineering or manufacturing, then you will see an established presence.”

At the Swedish test track, 60 miles from the Arctic Circle, ZF TRW has room for around 150 engineers to evaluate technology on permanently snow-bound tracks and a frozen lake, whose remoteness makes it attractive to conduct monitoring in privacy.

In particular, the supplier was showcasing its braking and steering systems in a bid to pave the way for the eventual adoption of active safety and automated driving, whose introduction is already being heralded by the evidence of purchase orders for equipment appearing in five years time.

“We are placed to support customers as we move into a new era of active safety – driven by an increasingly stringent regulatory landscape – and automated driving,” added Lake.

“In Steering we have a broad technology portfolio, from column drive EPS, to dual pinion EPS and belt drive EPS for a range of vehicle segments.

“Our EPS belt drive offers [good] fit for automated driving solutions, due to its precision and low-friction – we have developed a benchmark which has received praise from our customers for the level of sensitive and steering feedback.”