ZF Friedrichshafen AG says its continuously variable transmission (CVT) joint venture with Ford Motor Co. will turn out 1 million units annually by 2005, part of the reason the company foresees the NAFTA region as its biggest growth market going forward.

The Ford-ZF JV will begin producing CVTs in fall 2001 for both Ford and Fiat Auto SpA, says ZF Group North American Operations Chief Executive James C. Orchard.

Volume during the first full year of operation should be in the 100,000 to 200,000-unit range, Mr. Orchard says. Ford and Fiat will use the CVTs in lower-to-middle midsize cars, he says. ZF says it also is negotiating potential CVT supply arrangements with at least two other automakers.