The move to Bharat Stage VI emission norms, which have been advanced to April 2020 by the Indian government, is fraught with a variety of challenges. However, several multinational players are confident of meeting the deadline considering their experience in implementation of the Euro VI emission regulations in other parts of the world. One such company is the leading global supplier, Bosch.
At the Bosch India Technology Expo 2016, organised in the first week of February in Greater Noida, we caught up with Dr Markus Heyn, member of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch GmbH and Dr Steffen Berns, Managing Director, Bosch Limited and President, Bosch Group India to understand the company's roadmap in India.
Assuring the industry of its support in taking on this challenge, Dr Heyn said the key for the industry – both OEMs and suppliers together – is to look at the systems challenge as opposed to bringing in components individually. That part of the engineering challenge has to be mastered together, he said, adding that would also be the right approach to ensure solutions are affordable to the market. "Looking at the Indian creativity, I'm confident together with Indian OEMs, we'll be able to come up with smart solutions. Nevertheless, it's a challenge as the timeline is very short," he said. Importantly, what gives him hope is the fact that there is a clear target for engineers to find the right solutions.
While time is a constraint, the other key question is related to cost. Dr Berns is of the view that unless the technology roadmap towards BS VI is defined, it would be difficult to forecast the cost implication. In the European context though, manufacturers were able to keep the cost of the vehicles more or less the same, and also the diesel to petrol ratio remained the same in Europe, he said.
Like the BS VI emission regulations, the other key subject of discussion in India currently is about the quality of diesel as a clean fuel. Dr Berns mentioned India's commitment at the Paris Climate Convention in 2015 to a 33-35 % reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. "That isn't possible without diesel. Rather our approach has to be to make diesel cleaner," he said.
As a whole, one of Bosch's goals is to contribute to more efficient and clean engine powered vehicles. At the Tech Expo, the company presented innovations on the next generations of common rail diesel technology as well as next-gen exhaust gas after treatment solutions, which in essence will help the industry achieve BS VI norms.
Technology solutions are already available, and the next step, Dr Heyn said is to have intensive dialogues with their customers on how to best integrate technology into their vehicle concepts. Getting solutions from other markets into India won't work, he opined. Which means the company would need to develop specific solutions for the Indian market, based on specific conditions such as climate and driving cycles. Importantly, any solution thus developed should also be affordable.
A key concern in this context is the quality of fuel availability. "We would like to see low sulphur fuel made available ahead of time so that we can at least manage two validation cycles before the BS VI norms rollout. The reason is simple: technically, the lubrication characteristics do affect all moving parts in an engine. We want to validate our solutions based on the Indian low sulphur fuel that will be later provided to the market," said Dr Heyn. He has called upon the government to ensure that BS VI-level fuel is made available latest by 2018.
At the expo, a strong focus was also accorded to two-wheeler technologies that make riding cleaner, safer and economical. One such solution is the electronic engine management system (EMS) that replaces the mechanical carburettor, leading to a reduction of fuel consumption by 16 %. Additionally, the control unit of the system analyses all the data from the powertrain – from ignition to the amount of fuel – to optimise performance. Although potentially big, electronic fuel injection systtems have very small penetration in the current Indian market. Dr Berns is confident the uptick would be rapid henceforth. The company currently supplies EFI systems to four Indian brands. It is currently used in two-wheelers with larger engines, but its percolating downwards. "The advantage on the fuel economy is something the driver notices," he said. Also on display was the ABS 10, the anti-lock brake system designed for use in small motorcycles with up to 250 cc engine displacement. This product is optimised for size, weight and cost.
The company has also developed a comprehensive connectivity platform solution tailored to the Indian market. The Intelligent Transport Management System (iTraMS) works in passenger cars, CVs and off-highway vehicles and can help track the vehicle location, and aids in condition monitoring and performance analysis. Said Dr Heyn, "Bosch's iTraMS platform is a connectivity solution tailored to the Indian market. It provides accurate vehicle-information on your smartphone and can immensely reduce everyday driving cost."
Meanwhile, the falling crude oil prices have resulted in stagnation in electrification of vehicles worldwide. The trend of further electrification of vehicles will be pursued, but Bosch isn't if this is the most suited way for India. "I think it's important to concentrate on combustion systems for some more time, and then add on intelligent features as we go along. NEMMP is important but I don't expect a big bang success," Dr Berns concluded.
Text: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah