|Sales||€36,929 million||€36,444 million|
|Adjusted EBIT||€2,065 million||€2,339 million|
|Adjusted EBIT margin||5.6 %||6.4 %|
|Net profit or loss before tax||€1,225 million||€1,409 million|
|in % of sales||3.3 %||3.9 %|
|Net profit or loss after tax||€965 million||€1,167 million|
|Adjusted free cash flow¹||€891 million||€1,818 million|
|Investment in property, plant and equipment||€1,586 million||€1,350 million|
|Equity ratio (end of the year)||27.5 %||24.4 %|
|Dividends||€195 million||€50 million|
|¹ Cash flow from operating activities less cash flow from investing activities, adjusted for company acquisitions and disposals.|
² Direct and indirect employees without temporary workers, apprentices and vacation workers as of December 31, 2018.
Autonomous ride hailing, micromobility, mobility-as-a-service – these are just a few of the many new terms that clearly demonstrate what is happening in the mobility market. The field of applications continues to expand. Urban centers require different traffic solutions than rural areas. Conventional forms of individual vehicle ownership are being complemented to include special tailor-made services.
Technologies that support highly automated and autonomous driving are now available to make these new traffic concepts a reality, but will also define new safety requirements. The “Next Generation Mobility” that ZF has placed at the center of its strategy is taking shape. This is also true of the users who define demand due to added needs and social changes, thereby helping to impact additional market opportunities.
Hardly any other new ZF product makes this focus on the modern world of transport and mobility clearer than the ZF ProAI Robothink. It is the most powerful AI-capable supercomputer that the mobility industry currently has to offer. The flagship model of this flexibly scalable supercomputer can process up to 600 trillion calculations per second (600 Tera-OPS). This enables it to connect and process the data flow between internal and external sensors as well as cloud-based input and car-to-X communication in real time – to precisely control actuators in the drive and chassis. This is exactly what autonomous vehicles starting at Level 4 will need in order to operate safely in public transport.
With its systems expertise and its innovative product portfolio, ZF is attractive for all markets. There is a growing number of new vehicle manufacturers whose internal depth in development is minimal. They are in need of a one-stop supplier for the electric drive, steering system, brakes and sensors as well as automated driving know-how, so ZF is the right partner. Established automakers have similar needs because their own development capacities are no longer sufficient to meet the growing emissions and vehicle safety requirements and simultaneously develop marketable e-mobility and autonomous driving systems.
ZF has worked hard on its market appeal over the past decades. Now the company has to expand it. With its “Next Generation Mobility” strategy, ZF is playing out its unique selling proposition in two ways. First, it is utilizing sales opportunities and at the same time acquiring new customers and entering markets in which considerable sales shares can be earned, if not yet today or tomorrow, then probably the day after tomorrow.
The hub of the mobility revolution: The ZF ProAI Robothink is the most powerful supercomputer that the automotive industry currently has to offer. ZF is also deploying the AI-capable supercomputer in its connected system solutions.
We are one of the world’s largest mobility technology companies. The fact that the industry is currently undergoing dramatic change is both a challenge and an opportunity for ZF. The Group has long been working on solutions for clean and safe mobility. We are focusing our activities on four technology fields in which we have gained many years of expertise. Customers are benefiting from this competitive edge because we can deliver the most modern components or integrate them to create complete systems, depending on the requirements. We are already a leader in these four technology fields. We apply our expertise to passenger cars as well as trucks, buses and even industrial applications, like autonomous forklift trucks or special vehicles for depots. Doing so generates synergy effects for ZF and additional benefits for our customers.
What do a 200-kilowatt motor in a Formula E race car, the hybrid drive of a truck tractor and the motor of a pedelec all have in common? They are all produced and supplied by ZF. After all, the company has in its portfolio everything that vehicle manufacturers need for electrifying the drive – from components such as the electric motor and power electronics to complete systems. ZF drives are advancing micro mobility with e-scooters equally as much as they are advancing public transit with e-buses and goods transport with autonomous truck trailers or vans along the “last mile” to the city center.
When it comes to connectedness and autonomous driving, ZF innovations have also proven to be pioneering. In addition to sensor technology, software and computing power on board are gaining in importance because many driving functions can only be implemented in the vehicle using artificial intelligence. ZF technology plays to its strengths when it comes to enabling vehicles to see, think and act.
Yet even the traditional ZF competencies are gaining in importance in the age of automated driving. Using its connectivity solution cubiX, ZF is connecting all active and semi-active actuators in the car to create a complete system – made up of steering, shock absorbers, brakes and drive. This will generate a harmonious driving feel that may be particularly important when autonomous driving becomes more established. Then all of us as passengers can – at least part of the time – focus less on the road and more on doing other things during the drive.
The trend toward highly automated and autonomous driving will give birth to entirely new kinds of vehicles. Passenger transport in cities will soon be handled by "people movers". In the future, people will be using their cars less to get from A to B. They will use a variety of transport modes instead, such as trains, robotaxis, people movers, which will all be an inherent part of what is called a modal split. In a joint venture with the company e.GO Mobile AG, ZF is working on producing these vehicles for which experts are forecasting a global demand numbering in the millions.
The same vehicles will also be used as “cargo movers” and will shape how goods are transported in the future. The ZF Innovation Van 2018, which is rated Level 4, demonstrates how package deliveries along the “last mile” can be optimized by automated driving functions, for example, to enable them to maneuver independently through an urban environment. Remote control is particularly helpful for delivery drivers. If the next address is so close that it makes more sense to walk there, the Innovation Van moves as if it were on a virtual leash. If there is no parking available in front of an address, the driver can send the vehicle ahead to the next stop where it will look for a parking space on its own.
Maybe the most important realization regarding progress is that there is not only one type of progress. Instead, it will occur on different roads at entirely different speeds, sometimes quickly, sometimes at a snail’s pace, but there will never be any turning back. Today, we can already foresee much of what will be keeping us and those after us busy in the 21st century.
A rise in urbanization: Rapid city growth is already being observed in many areas of the world today. By 2050, two-thirds of the world's population will be living in big cities, which means mobility has to be restructured. Left up to city planners, this will occur by combining public transit with autonomous transport systems. After all, only intelligent complete control systems can reduce the frequency of traffic jams.
What is quality of life? And how can it be increased? Many people have already answered this question for themselves, launching measurable trends which indicate greater value being placed on safety and the environment. This not only changes specialized disciplines like medicine or the food industry, but also mobility. ZF’s strategic goal of helping to create a mobile world with zero accidents and zero emissions contributes to this.
At the same time, the living environment of people is becoming more and more individual. This is also noticeable in consumer behavior. The fact that people wait patiently in lines to purchase standard goods to meet daily needs will soon be mentioned only in history books. The trend is heading toward individualized products that are meant to be delivered within one day. Production and also logistics processes are already adapting. And mobility will also become more individualized. Vehicle ownership will soon become less significant than access to mobility – through the use of app-supported ride-hailing services, for example.
Connectedness makes this possible – another trend that is already shaping our media behavior. It has long been an integral component of mobility and enables autonomous vehicles to communicate with one another so that they can transport their passengers to the desired destination more safely and efficiently.
All these developments are having an impact on the world of tomorrow, on the mobility of people and, ultimately, on Next Generation Mobility, as promoted by ZF.
The working world is becoming more digital. But what does that mean? At ZF it means two things. First, there is the continuously optimized, well-established production system that has been in place for decades and features accurate planning processes that are streamlined to achieve zero-error quality from the development phase onwards. Secondly, and just as important, is the spirit of creativity, entrepreneurship and agility. These are key words that stand for a new working world with flat hierarchies, characterized by fast working styles and the courage to take new and innovative paths. ZF has therefore started to bring into line with one another the different working worlds along with their respective speeds. This dual operating system, as it is called, is helping ZF to better tap into current as well as new customer segments, which include traditional vehicle manufacturers, on the one hand, and young start-ups, on the other. That is why both operating modes have their place at ZF and do not compete with one another.
The expertise and commitment of the individual employees are important for both. Just how heavily ZF also relies on the creativity of its workforce was demonstrated in 2018. For the second consecutive year, the company held its internal idea competition, the “ZF Innovation Challenge.” Proposals for digitalizing existing products were requested as well as entirely new approaches. At the same time, the company focused on greater value for existing and new customers.
Also, the high number of patent applications and the over 776 projects that were submitted for the ZF Excellence Award, a global idea competition established in 2015, prove just how effective it is to give the creative spirit of ZF employees free rein.