ACI Bureau

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, a global leader in driveline and chassis technology as well as active and passive safety technology, has opened its new shock absorber production line in Chakan, Pune. With an annual installed manufacturing capacity of 0.7 million units, the new production line will be part of ZF’s regional headquarters there. It will increase the capacity to 3 million units in the coming 3 to 4 years.

With the dynamic business environment of the country and initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ZF is focusing on expanding its manufacturing capabilities in the country. With our wide array of products for commercial vehicles, we are actively shaping the 3 megatrends in the Indian auto industry: Safety, Efficiency and E-mobility,” Suresh KV, President of ZF India, said.

The completely localised production line will manufacture a comprehensive range of shock absorbers for commercial vehicles and industrial applications like trucks, buses and includes cabin and axle shock absorbers. The production line will be established in the existing multi-product facility and will offer operational synergies with the current set-up, helping the company to optimally utilise its resources. Furthermore, manufacturing processes used in different global plant locations will be followed at this new production line.

Fredrik Staedtler, Global Head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Business said, “The rapid development of India’s infrastructure, implementation of new norms for emissions and new vehicle loads, as well as the electrification of vehicles and scrappage policy, are all set to trigger a demand for the upgrade of commercial vehicles. As a systems solutions provider, ZF is well positioned to play a significant role in the growth of the Indian commercial vehicle sector as OEMs seek to introduce the latest technologies to their CV portfolio. For example, our nine-speed transmission technology for commercial vehicles is already BS-VI compliant.”

Earlier talking about the plans for ZF India, Staedtler said, “It is very encouraging to see the developments that are happening in the Indian market. In India, we will focus more on the six-speed and nine-speed manual transmission systems. We will work with the supply base to increase our production capacities. This will be the first step where we will see automation of the transmission systems. We have plans to localise our chassis components such as shock absorbers. Various aspects of chassis and drivetrain will be localised in the Pune plant.”

India focus

ZF has an extensive range of products for commercial vehicles in India. ZF offers transmissions, axles, chassis components and steering systems for commercial vehicles in the Indian market. The company makes steering systems with JV partner Rane TRW Steering Systems Limited and Anti-lock Braking (ABS) technology with JV partner Brakes India Private Limited.

ZF is keenly following the developments in the Indian economy and its fast-evolving automotive industry. India will make airbags mandatory for all passenger cars from October 2019, and will move to BS-VI emission norms from April 2020. Plans are under way to replace a large fleet of commercial vehicles (and other passenger vehicles) older than 20 years from the roads with the new ones. ZF is in discussions with OEMs and is planning capacity expansion for airbags and seatbelts. The senior management at ZF expects that from 2020 there will be big demand for automatic transmission systems for trucks after the implementation of BS VI.

India will be shifting to BS-VI emission norms in 2020. Due to higher emission norms, higher efficiency is needed on the drivelines. We hope that this will help the market upgrade from manual transmission systems to the automatic transmission systems. We are trying to be ready for that. We have major plans on how to grow in India. In India, our focus is on the Pune facility, which has enough area for future expansion. Also, our seatbelt and airbag business is very important for us, due to upcoming safety norms. We are having discussions with our OEMs and plan to optimise costs through large-scale manufacturing,” Staedtler said.

Earlier this year, ZF India achieved cumulative exports of parts worth 100 million euros (Rs 802 crore). The company has doubled its target to 200 million euros. For this the company plans to have a secured supply chain from India and have installed a purchasing hub with people located in Hyderabad, Pune and in Coimbatore. The company official said, “We have aligned this purchasing hub directly to Europe, and we are having a lot of discussions with our Indian suppliers. For us, India is a very important market. In many cases, we have delivered parts from India to the US, Germany and to the other locations as well.”

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