ZF expands R&D capacity in Friedrichshafen, plans further investments too

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 01 Mar 2019

The new testing center on the premises of the R&D Center took three years to build. ZF invested a total of €70 million in the building.

German technology major ZF Friedrichshafen has opened the doors of its new testing centre for drive technologies in Friedrichshafen, which will extended capacities for testing electric, hybrid and combustion engine drives for the company.

ZF has also announced its future expansion plans for the R&D centre site with the construction of a new office building next to the testing centre, which it says is designed to create additional working space for the developers who work there.

“The new testing centre for drive technologies is the fitness centre for mobility of the future. This is where all of ZF’s vehicle drives are technologically fine-tuned to get them in peak condition,” said Wolf-Henning Scheider, CEO, ZF Friedrichshafen at the opening of the testing centre in Friedrichshafen.

The technology major says it has designed the testing centre to be a highly flexible building, which is capable of testing electric, hybrid and combustion engine drives. It uses battery simulators to supply the necessary power to electric and hybrid drives. In this way, the entire power supply for a vehicle can be simulated in the test boxes – whatever the power source.

“The building reflects ZF’s candid R&D policy to engage with new technologies in order to develop innovative solutions which provide people with safe and comfortable mobility, affordable for everyone,” emphasised Scheider.

Speaking at the inauguration, Andreas Brand, Friedrichshafen’s First Mayor, said: “Innovations which are ‘made in Friedrichshafen’ have always been an essential part of our city’s DNA and its development. This is why we welcome the fact that ZF continues to invest in its headquarters, creating attractive and high-value jobs in the Lake Constance region. It is another endorsement of the city’s quest to develop into a high-tech and knowledge hub.”

The company plans further expansion to extend its capacities even further, which includes a new office building to be built at the R&D Centre premises immediately to the east of the testing centre and in keeping with the centre’s design. The building will accommodate around 400 developers, and the construction project is currently in the planning and approval stage. Following a total investment of €70 million (Rs 564 crore) in the testing centre, ZF says it expects to further invest a double-digit million figure.

At the Friedrichshafen facility, ZF operates numerous test equipment for various requirements and products including — the existing transmission test benches in the R&D Centre as well as a test bench for the laser-based LiDAR technology.

“The testing centre specialises in the endurance testing of drive technologies. Here, we can simulate the entire life cycle of a vehicle drive – whether it’s an electric or hybrid drive or a drive with combustion engine – in just three months,” said Dr Dirk Walliser, head of Corporate Research and Development, ZF.  

Mentioning the test field for automated driving which was launched by ZF together with the city of Friedrichshafen and the institute of training, knowledge and technology transfer (IWT) of Ravensburg University of Cooperative Education, Dr Walliser, said: “This test field enables our developers to test automated and autonomous functions virtually at their desks. This is an invaluable asset, enabling us to speed up our development processes and optimise testing procedures.”