ZF Group North American Operations (NAO) is the North American arm of German transmission, chassis, and driveline manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen AG. ZF Group NAO, which represents about 12% of its parent's annual revenues, makes driveline and chassis components for almost anything that rolls -- from passenger cars and light trucks to buses, heavy-duty trucks, and construction and agricultural equipment. Products include axles, steering systems, suspensions, and transmissions. It also specializes in transmissions for rail, marine craft, and helicopters. Aftermarket parts and service are offered, as well. The company has about 17 manufacturing sites in the US and Mexico.
ZF Group NAO operated more manufacturing sites prior to the 2008-2009 recession; however, it closed a number of facilities, including plants in Maine, Illinois, Kentucky, and Canada. Concurrent with the closures, it shifted production to other plants and reduced its North American workforce by 15%.
After enduring a 24% drop in sales in 2009 (vs. 2008), ZF Group NAO rebounded with a 67% jump in sales in 2010. It attributed the turnaround to the recovery in the larger auto manufacturing industry. The company's sales also benefited from ZF Group NAO's 2010 supply and license agreement with Chrysler. While Chrysler is currently receiving ZF's 8HP 8-speed automatic transmission from ZF's plant in Germany, it is licensed to produce the transmission once ZF builds a new casting plant in Kokomo, Michigan, in 2013.
The company recently expanded its technical center in Michigan to accommodate research and advanced product and technology development activities. There, ZF Group NAO performs ball joint and suspension link testing for torque, elasticity, wear, fatigue, and sealability. The facility also performs transmission testing and axle road testing using real world simulations.
ZF Group NAO targets its products primarily to US automotive manufacturers, as well as German, Japanese, and Korean car makers that have operations in North America. – less