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Electric Mobility: What You Need to Know

Why do we need electromobility? Does e-mobility belong to the future? What are the advantages of plug-in hybrids? Interesting facts about the electric car and the electrification of other vehicles.


Here is the definition from the German Ministry of Environment of Electromobility: “Electromobility in the sense of the federal government includes all vehicles that are driven by an electric motor and that draw their energy mainly from the power grid, that is, they can be charged externally. This also includes vehicles that have an electric motor as well as an internal combustion engine for the purpose of greater range, such as plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) and electric vehicles with so-called range extenders (REEV). ”

Brief Dictionary for Electric Drives

Did you know the abbreviations for HEV, MHEV, FHEV and PHEV?

HEV – Hybrid Electric Vehicle. This is the umbrella term for vehicles that combine an electric motor with an internal combustion engine. HEV is also used as synonym for Full Hybrid Electric Vehicles. HEV is also a synonym for FHEV.
MHEV – Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A mild hybrid has a small electric motor and is used to boost and support the internal combustion engine temporarily, you can´t drive purely electric.
FHEV – Full Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A full hybrid is basically an MHEV, but with a high-voltage battery and a slightly larger electric motor. Short distances can be driven with the full hybrid electric vehicle purely electrically.
PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle. The battery can be charged externally via plug, allowing for more powerful electric motors. Depending on the design, PHEVs can drive longer distances using solely their electric system. ZF is the market leader as a PHEV powertrain supplier being engaged with premium automotive companies.

Did you know the abbreviations for BEV and FCEV?

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle
describes what is commonly called an “electric car”: a vehicle with an electric motor powered by a battery and charged via power plug. ZF’s ambition is to be among the future market leaders aiming to achieve > 8 bn Sales with BEV business.
FCEV – Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle
is a concept that uses hydrogen as an energy source. In a fuel cell, the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates the power necessary for the electric motor. The only emission is water. Many consider FCEV as very different from BEV – the powertrain is often exactly the same! Our eVD2 drives both electric EQC and their Fuel Cell Version – the future is electric, but who knows if battery powered or with fuel cells!

Did you know that 25 metropolises worldwide account for 42 percent of the global market for electric vehicles?

More than half of these “Electric Vehicle Capitals” are located in China, six of them in Europe and five in the USA.

Formula E - Premiere

ZF supplies the entire drivetrain, including the electric motor, transmission and silicon carbide-based power electronics


What Connects and Distinguishes Between Pure Electric Cars and Plug-in Hybrids

Electric vehicles drive locally, emission-free and can thus reduce CO2 emissions, which contribute to climate protection. The fact that the future belongs to electric vehicles is largely undisputed. However, their limited range, the poorly developed charging infrastructure and the comparatively high acquisition costs still hinder the breakthrough of electric cars. Plug-in hybrids make it easier to get started in electric mobility. They are a long-term bridge technology on the way to pure electromobility.

E-Motors: Technology for Sustainable Mobility

ZF engineers recognized early on the importance of the electric motor and advanced its development. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gases.

Efficiency Turbo for Electric Mobility

ZF’s drive concept EVmore demonstrates, how new ideas for optimized components in the electric driveline can make the overall system much more efficient and sustainable.

E-Pickup: A US Icon Goes Electric

With eBeam Axle, ZF's electrified solid axle, the company aims to bring zero local emissions driving to medium-duty pickup trucks in North America. Here’s what you need to know about this innovation

Flexible All-Wheel Drive for Electric Vehicles

"eConnect" is the name of ZF's decouplable, purely electric all-wheel drive. The technology company presented the close-to-production innovation to the public at this year's International Motor Show IAA.

Efficient Electric Mobility. Now!

For ZF, the IAA year 2021 is paramount. The technology company presents electric volume production solutions for the "Next Generation Mobility."

On Fast Track Towards Tailor-Made Electric Drive

With the "Modular eDrive Kit", ZF presents a sophisticated modular kit for all-electric passenger car drives. It grants customers significant benefits when introducing their E-model series.

Power Electronics - the Secret of Perfect E-Drivetrains

In electric vehicles, the power electronics are of critical importance for the efficiency. ZF gained experience with a new semiconductor material in racing that provides benefits in series production.

800 Volts: From the Race Track to the Long Haul

The triumph of 800-volt technology began in motorsports. What has led to triumphs there is now helping electromobility achieve a breakthrough for everyday vehicles, especially in segments where long-distance capability is required.

Zero Emissions in the Cities of the World

Electric buses are indispensable for zero-noise and zero-emission mobility in cities. They are already widespread in China. Metropolises in other regions of the world are catching up, though.


What You Should Know About the Technology of Pure Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

The electric motor and battery are two essential elements that distinguish electric vehicles from classic vehicles with combustion engines. Find out how these components work and what else makes electric vehicles what they are.

Highlight Products

Zero-emission driving with Cetrax

CeTrax - electric drive instead of combustion engine
The CeTrax electric central drive can be integrated simply into vehicle designs with a conventional driveline layout and is suitable for buses and mid-range delivery trucks. Electric motor with integrated, tried-and-tested planetary stage from ZF-EcoLife.

AxTrax AVE – electric portal axle for city buses

The electric portal axle AxTrax AVE with integrated wheel hub drive is the solution for electric buses, hybrid buses and trolleybuses. It enables to solo buses as well as articulated buses full-electric and zero-emission driving.

Electric Axle Drive 100 kW

Fully-integrated electric drive
Compact electric drive for compact cars and all-wheel drive vehicles. Electric PSM machine with 100 kW output.

Electric Axle Drive 150 kW

An environmentally friendly drive concept
Designing a common central housing with a cover on the transmission and electric motor side and using the motor shaft as a transmission input shaft results in a series of functional advantages. The reduction in bearings and interfaces of the ZF electric axle drives results in better performance regarding energy consumption and noise characteristics.

Inverter 400 V

Greater efficiency for electric drivelines
Flexible 400-volt inverter. A standardized system design speeds up the process of designing and developing different versions Controlling all conventional electric motors – both electrical asynchronous motors (ASM) and permanent magnet synchronous motors (PSM).

Inverter 800 V

Silicon carbide semiconductors increase driving range
Power electronics for electric drives based on silicon carbide semiconductors. Provides higher efficiency compared to systems with semiconductors made of pure silicon. May lead to an increase in range of five to eight percent on the road with unchanged battery size.

8-Speed Plug-In Hybrid Transmission (Gen4 - from 2022)

Significant CO2 reduction with simultaneous increase in electrical performance
More power and higher efficiency characterize the 4th generation of 8HP transmission. Thanks to its modular design with different launch elements, the new 8-speed automatic transmission can be used in the electrified variants PHEV and MHEV as well as a conventional variant in the future. The 4th generation of the 8HP modular system is more than just a "single" transmission, and therefore the flexible solution for the future requirements of our customers for electromobility.

Electric Mobility for Commercial Vehicles

ZF is continuously pursuing the goal of a cleaner and more efficient transportation of goods and people. Find out how ZF’s technologies in the commercial vehicle sector contribute to this.

Electrical and Efficient

ZF has once again massively increased its electrification efforts for buses and trucks in recent years. Winfried Gründler, head of the e-Mobility Project House, explains the background and technological orientation of the electrification strategy in the video.

AxTrax AVE

The electric portal axle AxTrax AVE with integrated wheel hub drive is the solution for electric buses, hybrid buses and trolleybuses. It enables to solo buses as well as articulated buses full-electric and zero-emission driving.

CeTrax lite

This all-electric drive solution is designed for use in delivery vans and light commercial vehicles up to 7.5 tons and offers a peak power performance of 150 kW. Another special feature of CeTrax lite is the integrated design, in which the electric motor, power electronics and transmission form a compact unit with a shared housing.


ZF’s eTrailer is a semitrailer with integrated electric motor. The prototype can convert every conventional truck it is coupled with into a hybrid vehicle. This brings numerous advantages - not only in terms of CO₂ emissions.


CeTrax is an all-electric central drive that is equally suitable for buses, distribution trucks and special vehicles. A major advantage of the system is the easy integration into existing vehicle platforms.

Effectively Electrified: Commercial Vehicle PTOs

When it comes to electrifying commercial vehicles, the focus will not only be on the driveline, but also on the PTOs.

Electric Drive for the Bus of the Future

With the AxTrax AVE electric portal axle from ZF, city buses run quietly and locally without emissions. In a video, you will learn how this axis is created.

More Efficiency and Electrification in Truck & Van

Dr. Jochen Witzig explains the technical changes as well as the current developments in conventional and electric powertrains.

Central Electric Drive for City Buses

ZF quickly developed the CeTrax electric central drive and presented a prototype, in use, at the end of 2017. Now, this electric drive for city buses has gone into series production.

The ZF EVplus concept demonstrates that plug-in hybrids can be considered as true electric vehicles.


The Puzzles for the Best Electric Motors Solved

There are electric vehicle motors with the latest technology, maximum efficiency, top performance or good price-performance ratio. And those that can be produced quickly in varying quantities. Electric motors "made by ZF" provide all of the above.

Power Electronics

In terms of efficiency, comfort and acoustics the power electronics of the electric drive are decisive. Its software controls so variably that it meets all requirements.

Double Voltage, Longer Range

ZF's 800-volt drive system significantly reduces charging times. At the same time, the silicon carbide power electronics used enables electric vehicles to drive longer distances.

Plug-in Hybrid: Software as Driver for Efficiency

Current volume production components plus improved software already makes the next generation mobility come true with PHEV.

Electric Drive & Mechanics: A Perfect Symbiosis

With regard to next-generation mobility solutions, ZF also benefits from its experience in mechanics. The example of the e-reduction drive demonstrates the significance of mechanical components for electric vehicles.

Goal: Scalable E-Modules

Dr. Otmar Scharrer describes why ZF is working with strong partners to focus even more strongly than before on electromobility. The Group is currently working at full speed on a platform strategy.

Different Ways to More Electrical Range

In order for electric cars to cover more kilometers, it is not enough to just enlarge the battery pack. ZF turns several powertrain adjustment screws to get the maximum mileage from a battery charge.

Smart Digitalization is Fueling E-Mobility

Electric drives are a crucial part of the mobility of tomorrow. They offer even greater added value for everyone if they are integrated into smart digital solutions.

The Ideal Electric Machine for Every Requirement

ZF expert Dr. Matthias Behringer explains the differences in electric motors and why they should always be considered as part of the overall drive system.

All Important Information About the Electric Car Battery

The battery is one of the most important components of an electric vehicle. You can find out here which tasks it performs and what types are available.

How an Electric Car Works

Electric motor and battery are two essential parts that distinguish electric cars from vehicles with internal combustion engines. Find out how these components work and what else characterizes electric vehicles.

Hybrid Drives: How They Differ Technically

Hybrid vehicles combine an electric machine with an internal combustion engine in different ways. This enables them to contribute to reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Hybrid Technology for all Vehicle Types

Hybrid systems play a key role in the mix of vehicle drives. This applies to cars and commercial vehicles. ZF has a portfolio with modular, flexibly, scalable hybrid components.

Electric Truck: Clean, Quiet and Efficient

ZF Japan has built an electric drive train as the prototype of a delivery truck, specifically for the Japanese market.

AxTrax AVE: Small Axis with a Big Impact

Cities, in particular, suffer from pollutant emissions. With the AxTrax AVE electric portal axle, ZF offers a proven electric drive for clean public transport.

Electric Mobility on the High Seas? Definitely!

The number of ships with hybrid propulsion is growing because it reduces fuel costs and protects the environment through fewer emissions. ZF supplies the right gearbox for this.


Buses, Ships, Commercial Vehicles: Everything is Electric

Electrification is not limited to passenger cars. Other types of vehicles, such as buses, trucks, construction machinery, tractors and even ships, are increasingly becoming electrically powered. We present some examples.

The E-Bus Drives Itself

Autonomous electric shuttles will play a key role in the public transport system of the future. After more than two decades of experience, ZF has acquired unique knowledge in this segment.

Combined Micromobility Expertise

With its subsidiaries ZF Micro Mobility and BrakeForceOne, ZF participates for the first time in the Eurobike trade show.

Electrification: London's Bus Legend Goes Electric

With 37 new double-decker buses, powered by the ZF electric portal axle AxTrax AVE, the city of London is a step closer to its goal of an emission-free bus fleet.

Course on Zero Emissions and Climate Neutrality

With hybrid transmissions, the CeTrax electric drive as well as its own drive shafts, fixed propellers and controls, ZF also controls zero emissions in marine drive technology.


Electric Mobility Yesterday and Today

Electric vehicles are anything but a recent invention. Rather, the roots of e-mobility go back to the late 19th century. Since then, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to produce large numbers of electric cars. We trace the development of electric vehicles from the beginning until today.

Short History of Electric Vehicles 1

The roots of electric mobility reach back to the late 19th century. Part 1 of our historical outline of e-vehicles describes the development from its beginnings to the 1940s.

Short History of Electric Vehicles 2

Part 2 of our historical outline examines how electromobility has developed at different speeds over the past decades, from the post-war period to the present.

E-Mobility @ ZF

Current information can be found in LinkedIn on our showcase page

Connected Solutions

System Partner for Electric Mobility

ZF develops and produces components and networked systems for electromobility - as pure e-solutions or as hybrid solutions that immediately make an effective contribution to climate protection. ZF electrifies everything: passenger cars, commercial vehicles, agricultural and off-road machinery.

Autonomous Driving

From technology and testing through to the future: We provide you with an overview of autonomous and automated driving of cars and other vehicles.

Integrated Safety

Helping to prevent traffic accidents or at least mitigating their severity are goals that ZF is pursuing with the most comprehensive safety technology portfolio in the supplier industry.

Vehicle Motion Control

The chassis plays a major role in ensuring safety, comfort and efficiency of a vehicle.

Digitalization and Software

Digitalization is all about integrating and interconnecting artificial intelligence into more products and endowing it with the capacity to learn. ZF is one of the trailblazers that is revolutionizing mobility.