Driveline and chassis producer ZF saw sales fall by a third from January to August 2009, compared to the first eight months of 2008. For the full year, ZF forecasts corporate sales will fall by a quarter to €9.2 billion (US$13.5 billion) and anticipates sharp net losses.

The number of corporate employees will be reduced by 6% to about 59,800 by the end of 2009. At its German sites, about three quarters of ZF employees are on subsidised short working hours or have had their work hours otherwise cut.

"ZF is feeling the effects of the economic crisis very deeply. There is still great uncertainty in the marketplace, which is obscuring a clear view of the coming months," said ZF CEO Hans-Georg Härter. "We cannot exclude a W-shaped trend - in which case, we are now riding an artificially generated peak before entering a second valley," Härter added.

Overseas, ZF has laid off about 800 employees in North America and 500 employees in South America, while adding about 500 new positions in Asian growth markets. By the end of 2009, there will be about 59,800 ZF employees, slightly more than 6% fewer than at the end of 2008.

"The fact that ZF has always operated according to sound business principles and has paid particular attention to liquidity since the beginning of the crisis is now paying off," said Härter. "Our product portfolio is ideally suited to the future. The ever-growing trend towards sustainable products that are both economically and ecologically friendly will once again put us on a growth path in the medium term," Härter concluded.

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