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Big Car Drivetrain Maker Forms Joint Venture for Developing E-Bike Drives

Sales & Trends

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – ZF, worldwide one of the largest automotive suppliers specializing in drivetrain technology, has established a joint venture with Magura, BrakeForceOne and Unicorn for developing electric drive solutions for e-bikes. The joint venture is to “help shape this growing market and to further drive technological advances.”

Big Car Drivetrain Maker Forms Joint Venture for Developing E-Bike Drives
Electro- and micromobility are shaping the future of urban mobility. A joint venture between ZF and Magura, BFO and Unicorn Energy is driving momentum for new (e-bike) technologies. - Photo Getty Images

As the company recognizes that electromobility and micromobility are important elements for the future of mobility its CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen, Dr. Stefan Sommer, says “With this joint venture, we aim to redefine electromobility in the micromobility sector for two, three and four-wheeled vehicles.”

Joint venture partners

With a stake of 48%, ZF is the largest shareholder of the joint venture which is Tübingen, Germany based. The areas of expertise for the other partners include two-wheeler component technology and services (Magura and BrakeForceOne) as well as battery technology (Unicorn Energy). With these two partners ZF founded ‘Zukunft Ventures GmbH’ in September 2016. Headquartered in Friedrichshafen, the company has a clear mission: investing in companies that are active in technology fields relevant for ZF. These companies, which are often smaller but already well-established, receive support from a strong partner, and in return, ZF will have greater access to sustainable technologies that will keep it one step ahead of the competition. ZF believes that there is great future potential in the field of micromobility and this applies equally to the transport of people and cargo. Studies have already predicted enormous growth in the use of electric lightweight vehicles by 2030, particularly for city center logistics.

E-mobility expertise

Zukunft Ventures GmbH is to develop, manufacture and sell products for the e-mobility market. Plans are already underway to present the first solutions late summer. The close proximity of the project partners will simplify collaborative work and accelerate the completion of new projects. “Over the last few decades, our innovative braking systems have played a major role in shaping the evolution of the bicycle, especially mountain bikes,” explains Magura’s CEO, Ralph Berndt. “Our e-mobility expertise is characterized by extensive know-how and strong partnerships within the Magenwirth Technologies Group. This joint venture will help us create new dimensions with e-mobility.”

Battery systems

“We have joined forces to pool our complementary skills and knowledge in order to develop products for the strong growth in the electromobility market,” adds BrakeForceOne  CEO Frank Stollenmaier.

Unicorn Energy has further technology for electromobility in its portfolio. “Our core competences are the development and standardization of battery systems with focus on infrastructure, energy management and communication. This is why our products are ideal for cross-divisional usage of mobile and stationary battery applications,” comments Michael Preiß, CEO of Unicorn Energy. “In the joint venture, it is through that expertise that Unicorn Energy will live up to the complex requirements of electromobility.”

Drive solutions for lightweight vehicles are a tradition for ZF. For example, the torpedo locking hub developed by a ZF predecessor company Fichtel & Sachs helped the bicycle break to achieve worldwide success at the beginning of the 20th century and set the industrial standard until well into the 1980s. Back in the 1930s, Sachs also supplied auxiliary motors for bikes, selling millions in particular during the 1950s. In 2001 ZF acquired Sachs from Mannesmann.

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