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Bosch completes acquisition of ZF’s share of ZF Lenksysteme JV; electric steering systems for fuel efficiency, ADAS and automated driving

The Bosch Group has completed its acquisition of ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s 50-percent share in the joint venture ZF Lenksysteme GmbH (ZFLS). Bosch now owns all shares in the formerly 50:50 joint venture, formed in 1999. It will be incorporated into the Bosch Group as a new division with the name Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH.

ZFLS is a leading manufacturer of electric steering systems, with which it currently generates around 60% of its sales, which were around €4.1 billion (US$4.6 billion) in 2013. Alongside its potential to save up to 0.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, electric steering is the basic technology required to realize a number of assistance systems in cars as well as automated driving.

For example, electric steering systems are one of the prerequisites for automatic evasive steering support in critical situations, the lane-keeping assistant, and the start-stop coasting function in which the engine shuts off while coasting. ZFLS also offers suitable, systems-capable electric steering systems for the growing electric vehicle market.

Electric steering is also increasingly being used in commercial vehicles. At the 2014 IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hannover, ZFLS presented the new commercial-vehicle steering system Servotwin, which marks the first step into the electrification of commercial vehicle steering.

The Servotwin is a steering system with torque superpositioning. In the first generation, this two-circuit steering system offers speed-dependent steering assistance and active centering. The next Servotwin generation will offer the option of driver assistance functions, which are used to improve safety and convenience in a heavy commercial vehicle.

A main focus of ZFLS’s R&D activities is the networking of components into software-controlled complete systems. For example, the company brought a solution to series production which allows a car hooked up to a trailer to be maneuvered from outside the vehicle with a smartphone. Thanks to the development of the Servotwin electro-hydraulic commercial-vehicle steering system, this principle also now works in trucks with more than 40 metric tons of load volume. The corresponding prototype was presented at the 2014 IAA.

ZFLS also offers a compact, locally-engineered, and especially cost-effective electric power steering system for Asian markets; customers who drive more affordable compact cars can also benefit from the increased efficiency offered by these products.

In total, around 1,400 of the new division’s associates, or more than one in ten, work in development. In 2013, the company spent roughly €238 million (US$269 million) on research and development. Since its establishment, the company has filed around 750 patents.


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