Heavy-duty truck component supplier Meritor Automotive announced at the International Trucking Show this week that it has formed a joint venture company with German auto industry supplier ZF Fredrichshafen AG for the manufacture and marketing of medium and heavy truck transmissions.

The new company, ZF Meritor LLC, will combine the transmission ranges of the two industry suppliers into a broad offering for the North American truck market, said Prakash Mulchandani, president of Meritor's Heavy Vehicle Systems business.
The deal will pull together the product ranges of the two partners in what is described as a good fit for both the North American and the European manufacturers' customers in the NAFTA region and in select export markets.
Meritor has a range of multi-speed 9-,10- and 13-speed constant-mesh transmissions, as well as new-technology Sure Shift automated mechanical boxes. ZF has torque-converter epicyclics - similar to Allison transmissions - and 16-speed, range-change/splitter single-countershaft synchromesh transmissions, as well as automated 12- and 16-speed conventional transmissions. Additionally, the German partner has a range of medium-duty transmissions that will give Meritor much-needed access to a proven product range to go up against Eaton and Spicer medium-duty transmission products.
The agreement was completed only hours before the press conference, held on the evening of the opening day of the International Trucking Show in Las Vegas. At the press conference, Mulchandani stressed that neither company's officials were prepared to say what the joint venture agreement would mean in precise product terms for the North American marketplace. That information will be released later in the year - probably by September. However, Mulchandani said that existing Meritor transmissions would definitely remain in the line-up.
ZF executives indicated the new company intends to fill in areas not currently served by the Meritor products with ZF transmissions. This suggests that the torque converter Ecomat will be introduced for Allison-type heavy applications that require automatics and the lighter duty, synchromesh medium transmissions will fill out the Meritor range.