Bosch invests billions in automotive technology, sketches autonomous driving scenario
At its annual Bosch Motorpresse Colloquium, the company announced to spend 3.2 billion euros on research and development in automotive Technology in 2011. According to Bernd Bohr, chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group, the R&D efforts are aiming at cleaner and greener drives as well as economical and safe mobility solutions. 400 million euros per year will be spent for research related to electromobility.
In his speech, the board member added that in this way “Bosch is seizing long-term growth opportunities without neglecting short-term ones.” In concrete terms, this means for example reducing fuel consumption in diesel and gasoline vehicles by at least another 30 percent. Bosch expects unit sales of its common-rail diesel-injection systems to rise by 10 percent annually up to 2015. Bohr 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 some 4 percent. In 2011, Bosch expects to double its sales of this system to about 2.6 million unit.
Figure: Alternative drive technologies will see strong growth for the decade ahead.
Despite significant efficiency improvements in diesel and gasoline vehicles, Bohr was confident that the future belongs to the electric drive. SB LiMotive, a joint venture between Bosch and Samsung SDI, started production of lithium-ion batteries at the end of 2010. In addition, is planning to establish a joint venture with Daimler that will develop and manufacture motors for electric vehicles in Europe. The company plans to start series production of electromobility products for nearly 20 projects for 12 automakers by 2013, Bohr said. Nevertheless, the still high battery costs and limited driving range translate into a changeover phase towards electromobility of well over a decade.
For the not-too-distant future, the company said it regards the outlook for plug-in hybrids as good: 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.
Regardless of the drive system, the company also expects autonomous driving to become a reality in the long term, Bohr said. The way to autonomous driving will lead over expanding driver assistance systems. Bohr believes autonomous driving will first become established in relatively discrete situations, such as during parking or in stop-and-go traffic. But future vehicle generations will feature systems that can also operate at higher speeds. “Autonomous driving will be introduced in steps,” Bohr said.