Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s largest automotive parts supplier, has gained an unexpected benefit from ZF Friedrichshafen AG’s step to buy TRW Automotive Holdings Corp.
Bosch will also purchase a ZF stake (worth 50%) in a joint venture company that specializes in building electronic-steering systems, a part that could become critical once driverless cars become a common sight.
This “makes Bosch a beneficiary of the situation that ZF finds itself in,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst for Bankhaus Metzler. Transmissions are “probably going to be a business that’s slowly dying. It’s no good for a company to be part of a declining industry.”
“Today, the driver is steering the car, and tomorrow it’ll be the electronics of the car,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
Bosch, tied to numerous automotive systems that are common today – such as the electronic-stability systems that keep us safe in our cars – is focusing its attention on the so called “automotive mega-trends,” which today increase fuel economy, advanced safety systems and driverless cars. The steering division, named ZF Lenksysteme, has 13,000 people employed in eight countries around the world, including the US, China and Brazil.