The technology group ZF has started the new year with a newly formed board of management team. Since 1 January, Dr Holger Klein has led the company as CEO. New members of the board, which has now been reduced from seven to six members, are Chief Financial Officer Michael Frick and Dr. Peter Laier, who is responsible for Commercial Vehicle and Industrial Technology. Meanwhile, in its first major appearance of the year, ZF presented its products for the software-defined vehicle and the next generation of autonomous transport systems at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the Board of Management team and our employees worldwide to realise our vision of sustainable, safe and affordable mobility for all,” says CEO Dr Holger Klein. “At the same time, climate protection and digitalisation, changing markets and the increasingly unsteady economic environment require forward-looking action and a high reaction speed. We are facing this with confidence. Because ZF has been proving for 108 years: We can change!”
Klein joined ZF Friedrichshafen AG in 2014 and was appointed to the Board of Management in 2018. The new CEO is responsible for Sales, Research and Development, the Autonomous Mobility Systems System House and the Aftermarket Division. At the same time as Klein, Michael Frick and Dr Peter Laier have taken over their board portfolios. Laier is responsible for Commercial Vehicle and Industrial Technology, the Group-wide Production division and the India region. Frick, who had already joined ZF in December 2022, has been acting as Chief Financial Officer since 1 January and is also in charge of M&A, IT and digitalisation.
Dr Martin Fischer, member of the Board of Management, will take over the management of the Car Chassis Technology Division in addition to his previous areas of responsibility (Active Safety Technology, Passive Safety Technology, Electronics and ADAS Divisions, North and South America Regions, Quality Division) at his place of work in the USA. In addition to the Electrified Drive Technologies Division, the Asia-Pacific region and Group Materials Management will be managed by Stephan von Schuckmann from Asia. The responsibility of Sabine Jaskula, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labour Director, for the Human Resources, Sustainability, Legal and Compliance departments remains unchanged.
“With the new alignment of responsibilities, we are bundling our tasks, increasing efficiency and focusing on proximity to our customers in North America and Asia,” says CEO Klein. “The intensive cooperation and strong confidence in the performance of our teams in the divisions, business units and regions have made this decision possible.”
At the first global management meeting of the new year in Friedrichshafen, Klein emphasised that ZF has achieved a lot and developed strategically even in difficult times: “We can rely on our capabilities, which have helped us to deal with transformation and overcome crises. After all, the war in Ukraine with its far-reaching consequences, the change in mobility, weak sales figures, material bottlenecks and – still – effects of the Corona pandemic continue to present us with major tasks that require a lot of attention.” Against this background, ZF will examine even more closely which technologies prove to be particularly promising and how these can be further strengthened. At the same time, he said, the company wants to reduce complexity everywhere in order to act more quickly and make better use of opportunities.
Software-defined vehicles, autonomous mobility systems, e-mobility
The year 2023 also began for ZF with its presence at the CES technology trade fair in Las Vegas. There, the focus was on products for the software-defined vehicle, autonomous mobility systems and e-mobility. For the first time, ZF presented the new generation of the ZF ProAI high-performance computer with a further significant increase in computing power. Customers have already ordered around 14 million units of the ZF ProAI; further growth is expected. ZF is thus supplying an important building block for future vehicle concepts with central control units, such as autonomous shuttles.
ZF also presented the next generation of these at the CES. It can drive fully automatically (Level 4) and thus manoeuvre in mixed traffic without a safety driver, provided that the local legal framework permits it. ZF has agreed a partnership with the US mobility service provider Beep for the deployment of these new shuttles. It provides for a planning volume of several thousand Level 4 shuttle vehicles for use in the USA.
Heatable safety belt to increase the range of e-cars
With the Heat Belt, an innovative heatable seat belt, ZF shows how the range of e-cars can be increased by up to 15 percent in cold weather. In combination with heated seats and, for example, a heated steering wheel, the energy requirements of an e-car in cold temperatures are significantly reduced because the entire interior no longer needs to be heated for the occupants to feel comfortable. The heated belt provides a uniform feeling of warmth close to the body.
CEO Klein and CFO Frick will provide a review of the 2022 fiscal year as well as an outlook for the current year and ZF’s strategic course at the annual press conference in Friedrichshafen on Thursday, 16 March. www.zf.com