World's Leading Gearbox Supplier Wants To Become One-Stop-Shop For EV Motor Architecture

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Manufacturers provide the body and the battery, ZF takes care of everything else.

ZF is best known for making some of the best gearboxes in the automotive industry, but it's now taking a giant leap into the upcoming EV revolution by introducing new e-drives for passenger cars and commercial vehicles. This follows shortly after ZF stated that a three-speed gearbox would be perfect for EVs, something it already has waiting in the wings.

As with its gearboxes, ZF wants to be a one-stop shop for everything EV-related, apart from the battery itself.

According to ZF, its new "e-drives [will] support automotive manufacturers in customizing the further electrification of their entire model range." End customers will enjoy higher efficiency, more power, and reduced charging times.

ZF is already one of the leading EV motor producers, having made two million so far. Its 800-volt electrical system will go into series production this year, though it's unclear in which car. Most vehicles are based on a 400-volt architecture, and only high-end models like the Porsche Taycan use an 800-volt system.


"We are focusing on three basic systems that meet our customers' main requirements, namely efficiency, performance, and cost, even in the standard version," said Markus Schwabe, Product Line Manager of Electrified Powertrain Systems. "On this basis, we can optimally implement further individual customer requirements in e-vehicles of all segments."

"The great interest of manufacturers in our products in both the passenger car and commercial vehicle sectors is confirmed by our high order backlog in the high-voltage business," said ZF Board of Management member Stephan von Schuckmann, who is responsible for e-mobility within the Group. "With the next generation of electric drives, we are consistently continuing our strategy of developing sustainable and efficient mobility for the future."


In short, ZF wants to become the leading supplier of e-motor stators, drive units, converters, integrated differential gear, and the software needed to keep all these components running smoothly. Just like it's the go-to factory for gearboxes, it will become a high-volume seller of the above. Manufacturers will be free to design an EV skateboard and battery pack, while ZF will provide everything needed to run the car.

ZF's new e-motor increases the power density found in current EVs. The German brand designed an entirely new cooling concept and winding technology. It also makes the unit 50% smaller for easier integration, and the use of rare earth minerals is negligible.


The new coaxial reduction gearbox has two planetary gears within the differential to create the desired axle ratio. The standard differential functions remain intact. "The new solution reduces weight and installation space requirements without compromising efficiency, noise, and vibration," claims ZF.

ZF's new high-voltage converters will play a significant role in fuel cell vehicles. They compensate for the low output voltage and the substantial voltage drop at a high load of the fuel cells.

"Thanks to sophisticated internal interfaces, the new, extremely compact design allows system or component adaptations to be made with little effort. In addition, the design has very high structural rigidity, which enables superior noise behavior," explains Dr. Otmar Scharrer, Head of Development for Electric Drive Technologies.


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