The CEO of Bosch had a clear message for the Car Symposium in Bochum, Germany – powertrain electrification is gaining in popularity, and low oil prices will not alter that momentum. Chairman of the board of management Volkmar Denner, whose responsibilities include research and advance development, laid out his beliefs that, by 2020, batteries will deliver twice the energy density for half the current cost. Denner also outlined the company’s belief that approximately 15% of new cars built worldwide will have at least a hybrid powertrain by 2025.
Given the EU’s strict emission targets for 2021, Bosh expects hybrid powertrains to become the standard for SUVs. This will give diesel and gasoline engines an extra boost. “Electrification will take combustion engines to new heights,” Denner says. With electric support, future combustion engines will consume less fuel and be cleaner. And the additional torque from the electric motor will add to driving enjoyment. Furthermore, falling battery prices will make hybrids considerably more affordable.
Denner used the example of China to underscore the importance of electrified vehicles to be suitable for everyday use. There are already more than 120 million electric scooters on China’s roads. And in China, Bosch sells the electric wheel hub drive for such e-scooters. With a top speed of 40km/h, this popular form of transport is fast enough for the traffic conditions in megacities.
The range of such vehicles – roughly 49km (30 miles) – is sufficient for everyday journeys. “The reason these two-wheelers are such a success is that they are a perfect match for Chinese commuters’ needs,” Denner says. And because they are designed to meet these needs, many models are less expensive than two-wheelers with combustion engines. According to Denner, the task now is to make such tailor-made solutions possible for cars as well.
Connecting vehicles to the internet of things is vital in making electromobility convenient. “Electric cars are good, but connected electric cars are better,” Denner says. At the moment, recharging vehicles is a complicated process. But this is expected to become much more convenient. Bosch Software Innovations, the Bosch group’s software and systems unit, has developed an app that makes it significantly easier to reserve the charge spots of different providers and pay for the electricity. Ordinarily, doing this would have required a different customer card for each provider. Now all drivers need is a smartphone, the app, and a PayPal account to recharge anywhere in Germany. Bosch also complements this with a software platform that links 80% of all charge spots in Germany. As this example shows, Bosch no longer sees itself solely as a supplier of automotive components, instead combining its expertise in what it sees as the three mobility domains – automation, electrification, and connectivity. In the future, Bosch intends to offer its customers integrated mobility solutions.