LINTHE, Germany – How many automotive suppliers can design, manufacture and deliver a complete axle, 9-speed transmission, steering rack, suspension, brake calipers, electronic controllers, seatbelts and every airbag necessary to protect vehicle occupants?

Only one: Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen, thanks to its recent $12.4 billion acquisition of TRW. Even Magna, which bolsters its position as arguably the world’s most diverse automotive parts producer with its purchase of transmission specialist Getrag for $1.9 billion, lacks ZF’s newfound technological breadth.

With estimated annual revenues of $30 billion, ZF now ranks behind only No.1 Bosch and No.2 Denso and sets out to leverage its bumper-to-bumper expertise as the industry, consumers and government regulators demand vehicles that are lighter, safer and more fuel-efficient, without compromising performance.

An engineer by trade, ZF CEO Stefan Sommer understands friction is the enemy in many aspects of product development, but he finds the term fitting when describing the integration of TRW, largely because there is virtually no overlap as the companies merge.

“We know friction is not good,” he tells journalists gathered here at a test track to experience the many competencies of the new entity. “But it’s rare. It’s gliding, it’s rolling.”

TRW will function as the fifth product division within ZF. In a matter of months, engineers and designers from ZF and the former TRW have been sharing notes, exchanging ideas and identifying best practices, and some of the resulting technologies will be ready for market in the near future.

“It’s what our engineering teams have realized in the shortest timeframe, and it demonstrates how great both technology positions are, coming from driveline, chassis, car safety and autonomous driving,” Sommer says. “They fit into each other. We try to show you our vision for the mobility of the future.”

With TRW’s vast experience with radar-based adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and emergency braking, ZF suddenly is positioned to capitalize on the market for self-driving vehicles, should it take off.