A Home in Michigan The World’s Automotive Center

Deeply rooted in Michigan, ZF continues to strengthen its presence as a player in the world’s global automotive capital.

Where new technologies become reality

They called them “mechanics,” and Michigan in the 19th Century – particularly Detroit – was full of them. They were the reason that the region became the place where new technologies went on to become realities in America’s industrial development – ship engines, railroad cars, metallurgical products, brass hardware, carriages, iron heating and cooking stoves – all became Detroit specialties.

Detroit, with its unparalleled automotive legacy and a history of making revolutionary inventions, such as the Model T and the launch of the assembly line, is the global center of the automotive industry.

After experiencing a slew of hardships, many never expected Michigan or Detroit to bounce back, but the city is experiencing a revitalization like no other. A groundswell of activism – something that’s always been present in the city but has recently gained more momentum – has taken over, made up of long-time residents, students and businesspeople, international dreamers and technology startups.

"There's a culture and ethos of innovation and hard work among Detroiters - some people call it 'grit'," says Glenn Stevens, vice president of MICHauto and strategic development at the Detroit Regional Chamber. "On top of that, we've got art, music, industry; there's a lot going on in the city of Detroit."

Metro Detroit has gained nearly 186,000 private sector jobs since 2009, outpacing the national growth rate by 4.4 percent. A collection of inventors, thinkers, dreamers and designers with a need for mobility and a desire to create are increasingly calling Detroit “home.”

Set to emerge as an entrepreneurial hub and leader in innovation, Detroit is filled with tomorrow’s innovators.

Video: What is it like to work and live in Michigan?

Learn why the world's automotive center – Detroit, Michigan – is a city and state unlike all the others; and why ZF and its employees think it's a great place to live and work.

A home in Michigan

Michigan natives have a built-in map right in the palms of their hands - literally! People often use their hands to show where exactly they live in the "Mitten State."

As a company focused on innovation it only seems natural that ZF have a presence in the area. The company planted its roots in Michigan 30 years ago with a sales office in Farmington Hills, a small city west of Detroit and home to several auto suppliers.

With a majority of our key customers and major OEMs calling the Mitten (Michigan’s affectionate nickname) home, it made sense that ZF continued to expand and provide better support for its customers. Opening a Technical Center in Northville, Michigan, in 2000 and then expanding to include the Regional Headquarters a few years later in 2004, ZF’s role as an industry leader in the region was established with hundreds of employees from around the globe relocating to Michigan to support the endeavor.

Shortly after, ZF’s growth continued when it took over the completion of a plant from Chrysler (now FCA), just eight years ago. The Marysville plant annually produces half a million lightweight axles and axle drivers and is located on the St. Clair River which divides Michigan from Canada.

ZF's second largest region formed

Metro Detroit is home to all but one of ZF's Michigan locations.

Our newest, and most exciting venture has been the 2015 acquisition of TRW, creating one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers. With its network of engineers, test centers, and development and production facilities, TRW brought together shared strengths with ZF to develop products that are changing the landscape of the industry. Today, Michigan is home to 10 vital locations – one of which is ZF’s North American headquarters – and two test facilities.

Both companies have a strong reputation for high product quality and continuing innovation with our new Integrated Brake Control (IBC) system, which was the first ZF product that was designed, developed and will be produced in Michigan, as a key example. Building on the expertise already in place at the ZF TRW Fowlerville facility, the new motor-driven IBC unit can be fitted to any electric, hybrid or standard vehicle engine and is revolutionizing the future of brake technology.

“From an innovation perspective, our complementary portfolio of products allows for greater growth as a global leader in automotive technology,” said Dr. Franz Kleiner, Member of the Board of Management responsible for the Active & Passive Safety Technology Division and Region North America. “We are uniquely positioned to satisfy the global megatrends of Efficiency, Integrated Safety and Automated Driving from global centers of excellence such as our extensive engineering and test centers in Michigan.”

The IBC system is just the beginning when it comes to our company’s growth in Michigan. Supporting our global network of regional customers, ZF’s Occupant Safety Systems (OSS) engineering development center in Washington Township, Michigan, supports OEMs globally and is the location of continuing research and improvement for occupant safety systems.

A bright future

From the 19th Century until now, engineers, inventors, skilled tradesman, and entrepreneurs have been the foundation that Michigan’s technology expertise is drawn from. For decades this state has relied on skilled people to make great new things and the same is true for ZF. Michigan provides an unprecedented location for the company to maintain its spot as one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers and innovation leader in all of the industries we serve.

Since January 2013, more than $3.4 billion in investment and development has been announce in Detroit and metro Detroit has gained nearly 186,000 private sector jobs since 2009.

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