Automotive Supplier ZF

ZF CEO Scheider: “Hybrid Technology Deserves Greater Attention”

| Author/ Editor: Svenja Gelowicz / Alexander Stark

Electric vehicles are second or third cars for wealthy people, criticizes ZF boss Wolf-Henning Scheider — and calls for a "people's hybrid". His company is investing three billion euros in better hybrid technology, 800 million euros of which at the "flagship location" Saarbrücken.

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ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider in Wolfsburg: "There's really a lot of potential in hybrid technology."
ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider in Wolfsburg: "There's really a lot of potential in hybrid technology."
( Source: Svenja Gelowicz/Automobil Industrie )

On the eve of the "car summit" of the business newspaper "Handelsblatt" Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, founder and director of the Car Institute Duisburg Essen, answered to the question of a "people's hybrid" that "no one is wearing suspenders and belts at the same time". The boss of ZF Friedrichshafen provided much more information the following day. "If we are serious about electrification, then we have to make the technology much easier to access," said Wolf-Henning Scheider in Wolfsburg at the "Automobile Summit". "We need to build a people's hybrid." He demands more "appreciative attention" for Hybrid technology. Scheider is convinced that electric vehicles are currently only suited as second or third vehicles of wealthy people. In the upcoming hybrid generation of ZF, the electric motor covers most of the driving power, the combustion engine is a plus for longer distances. The electrical range: 80 to 100 kilometers, for example with better recuperation. Through geofencing, the future engine control recognizes urban areas and does not even start the combustion engine. For this new hybrid generation, his company had already won the minimum of three manufacturers needed, including German OEMs.

At ZF's Saarbrücken location, 8-speed hybrid transmissions for passenger cars are manufactured.
At ZF's Saarbrücken location, 8-speed hybrid transmissions for passenger cars are manufactured.
( Source: ZF )

But Scheider emphasizes that the current eight-speed plug-in gearboxes are also "well advanced" and, with 100 kilowatts of electrical power, you can "move an SUV pretty well". Since demand is "massively increasing", ZF wants to increase production tenfold by 2023. On December 7, ZF announced that it would invest three billion euros in further improving its transmissions. 800 million of this sum will be invested in the Saarbrücken transmission technology control site - or more precisely: in production plants and systems, in infrastructure, and in the supplier network. With this, ZF clearly distinguishes itself from the latest statements made by VW chief strategist Michael Jost. The latter announced, also during the "Automobile Summit", that VW wants to sell only CO2-neutral vehicles by 2050. That is why the year 2040 marked the first stop sign for the sale of models with diesel or petrol engines. The last new combustion engines are therefore expected to be launched in early 2030.

In the year 2026, the last platform, that does not support CO2-neutral vehicles will be launched. "In fact, our colleagues are working on the last pure combustion platform," says Michael Jost. He didn't say anything about what this ultimately meant for hybrid models.

Wolf-Henning Scheider: "Bashing of the Car Industry"

Meanwhile, the ZF boss criticizes the "extremely emotional debate" regarding the drive system in Germany. He considers this often to be actionism. “We do not have a coherent overall concept, but driving bans are enforced anyway." In order to change mobility, we would need more freedom instead of regulations. “Of course mistakes were made," says Scheider with a view to the diesel engine. But in his opinion it goes too far to demonize the whole technology. The future would of course be electric, but there would also be a transitional phase. In the short term, Scheider sees his role as an automotive supplier in creating open-technology drive concepts that "will take us through the next two decades". In the medium term, ZF wants to think about completely new mobility concepts and promote them. According to Wolf-Henning Scheider, the "bashing of the car industry" is to be replaced by a discussion based on facts.

"ZF Invests Equally in Future Technology and OEMs."

With a look at the car manufacturers' investment offensives, Scheider also refers to the twelve billion euros his company is investing in future technologies such as autonomous driving and electric mobility - over the next five years. "We've never spent that kind of money before.” In relation to sales, ZF is thus at the same level as the OEMs. Scheider: “This also reflects our new role. We invest equally in new technology. And we think the advanced hybrid drive is much more than a bridge technology."

This article was first published by Automobil Industrie

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