At a recent press conference, Chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group, Dr. Bernd Bohr, outlined his view of the future for the automotive industry, focussing on electric vehicles and the development of higher efficiency internal combustion engines.
At the companies 60th Automotive Press Briefing, Bohr stated that Bosch is developing at a dynamic pace, both economically as well as technically. Automotive technology sales will pass the €30 billion threshold for the first time in 2011, and the company is expecting growth to be around 10%. Bohr commented that the company is enjoying particular success with technology that promotes eco-friendly mobility and prevents accidents.
Bohr stated that he believes the present high battery costs and limited range meant that the switch to electromobility would take well over a decade. But he felt it was not simply a matter of either/or when considering internal-combustion engines and electric drives. Whatever the efficiency improvements in diesel and gasoline vehicles, Bohr is confident that the future belongs to electric drive vehicles.
For the not too distant future, Bohr judged the outlook for plug-in hybrids to be good, with a relatively small, cost-effective battery for urban trips that can be recharged from a power socket, combined with a gasoline or diesel engine for longer journeys. “Combinations of this sort,” Bohr said, “require broad and well networked systems expertise, one of Bosch’s strengths in its core areas of powertrain and chassis technology.”
The company’s technical expertise in electromobility covers a wide range of specialties stated Bohr. It produces not only power electronics and the semiconductors on which they are based but also electric motors. “By 2013 we will start series production of electromobility products for nearly 20 projects for 12 automakers,” Bohr said, adding “However, the up-front investments are considerable.” Bohr pointed out that Bosch spends €400 million each year on powertrain electrification. “The aim,” he said, “is to recoup these costs quickly through economies of scale.”
In light of this, Bohr welcomed the cooperation projects that have emerged in the industry to pool production volumes. Bosch itself is planning to establish a joint venture together with Daimler that will develop and manufacture motors for electric vehicles in Europe. Bohr saw this as a win-win situation.
Continuing to improve efficiency of internal combustion engines
“Bosch is seizing long-term growth opportunities without neglecting short-term ones” continued Bohr. “This means, for example, reducing fuel consumption in diesel and gasoline vehicles by at least another 30%. Technologies that improve efficiency are popular in the marketplace”, he said. “This is why Bosch expects unit sales of its common-rail diesel-injection systems to rise by a good 10% annually up to 2015”. He pointed out that the automotive supplier hoped to triple sales of its gasoline direct injection systems by 2013; in conjunction with turbocharging, these allow smaller engines to deliver the same performance while consuming less fuel.
Another example he cited was the start-stop system, which reduces fuel consumption by 4% and more. Bosch would, he said, sell some 2.6 million units of this system this year – twice as many as in 2010. “We are implementing a wide variety of measures to make vehicle drive systems more efficient than ever before,” Bohr concluded.
Edited by: Paul Whittaker, Editor ipmd.net, [email protected]