Catching Up

ZF, in $12.4 Billion U.S. Purchase, Catapults into Race for Driver-Assisted Cars

Google Car Laser Source AP
A laser sensor for self-driving cars as developed by Google several years ago.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German car parts maker ZF needs TRW’s knowledge to develop automated driving technologies or risk irrelevance in a changing market.

  • Facts


    • ZF has little technology in-house to enable assisted driving or automated driving, but TRW has the knowledge.
    • ZF will become the third-largest auto parts maker in the world, after Continental and Bosch.
    • The combination of ZF and TRW will create a firm with €30 billion ($38.8 billion) in annual sales.
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Impressed by the head-turning maneuvers of Google’s self-drive autos, and a growing market for electric and automated vehicles, ZF, one of Germany’s biggest auto parts makers, did the math.

Stefan Sommer, the ZF chief executive since 2012, wasted no time in publicizing the result.

On Monday, the German company, which is based Friedrichshafen, said it would buy a U.S. rival, TRW Automotive, for $12.4 billion, which will catapult ZF to the world’s third-largest car parts after the market leader, Continental, and Robert Bosch, both German companies.

With the purchase of TRW’s unit, which is a specialist in automated driving assistance technology, ZF will leapfrog rivals Denso of Japan, Canada’s Magna, and U.S.-based Delphi. The acquisition will boost ZF group sales by 75 percent to more than €30 billion ($38.8 billion) a year from €16.8 billion in 2013.

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