Leading automotive Tier 1, Bosch has reiterated its commitment to the Indian market and to the transformations that the industry is currently undergoing with innovative, affordable and future-ready solutions both for conventional and future mobility. At a recent media interaction, the company gave us a sense of its future lookout, and showcased some of its technology highlights
The transition to BS 6 emission norms, going live on April 1, 2020, had posed myriad challenges to the Indian automotive industry. The industry – known for its resilience and frugal engineering – nonetheless, took this as an opportunity to innovate and deliver well before the deadline sets in. Bosch Limited, the leading global automotive supplier, has made the most of this opportunity, and is simultaneously laying building blocks across other mobility megatrends.
Soumitra Bhattacharya, Managing Director, Bosch Limited & Regional President, Bosch Group in India (L) called the transition from BS IV to BS 6 the “most stringent change that is ever happening.” Considering the might of Bosch’s global organisation, its technological prowess and manufacturing strength, this is a significant statement. Yet, despite all challenges, the company has acquired 70 BS 6-related projects in the last couple of years, worth approximately Rs 24,000 cr. It must be noted these are booked acquisitions that will span over the acquisition period, clarified Bhattacharya.
Bhattacharya, along with Dr Markus Heyn, Member of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch GmbH (R) was speaking at the company’s recent showcase of some of its production-ready BS 6 solutions, in addition to a host of new-age innovations aimed at the mobility future.
The Indian industry, in fact, is seamlessly shifting through various regulatory changes, be it emissions norms, CAFÉ norms or safety norms. Soon after the roll-out of BS 6, the industry will be faced with the upcoming CAFÉ norms in 2022, and RDE emission norms the following year. Concurrently, India is also pursuing e-mobility, and Bosch Limited is developing solutions across the range.
Bosch recognises the prevailing downturn has had a negative impact on the overall industry, but insisted this must be viewed from a larger perspective. Bhattacharya reasoned that the industry had one of the fastest growing rates in 2017-18, and notwithstanding the current phase, must continue to believe in the long-term promise of the mobility market.
Mobility as we know it today is undergoing changes, but there will always be a strong demand for mobility solutions, but in different ways. In the period between 2018 and 2030, we’re likely to see an estimated 1.6 times increase in the movement of people and goods, and perhaps a double increase in rail and road, Bhattacharya stated. The changes will be aided by various factors, including the rapid urbanisation in Indian cities as well as India’s large young population. Bosch expects 40 % of the population to move into Indian cities in the years to come, which will bring in challenges along with opportunities.
While building new capabilities and enhancing current ones, Bosch – as a global manufacturer – has been particularly mindful of sustainability. The Paris Agreement, signed in 2016, has called for CO2 neutrality by 2050. Bosch on its own has announced the group would go carbon neutral by the end of 2020, including India.
A technology agnostic provider across diesel, gasoline, CNG, hybrids and electrification technologies, Bosch has developed strong localisation and indigenisation capabilities in India. Targeting future mobility, the company is focussed on developing solutions across the megatrends of personalised, automated, connected and electrified mobility, which in short is referred to as PACE within the Bosch group.
Staying with BS 6, the company said the 70 projects span across vehicle segments, including passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, three- and two-wheelers. In many cases, it involved development of tailor-made solutions. In the powertrain area, the company had to beef up its R&D efforts by 3.5 times in less than three years.
One such example is that of the engine management system (EMS) Bosch has developed for two-wheelers. The comprehensive range includes innovation in components for fuel injection and supply, air management, ignition and exhaust-gas treatment, and engine control units. The electronic engine control system, apart from being BS 6-compliant, is equipped with sophisticated sensors to provide improved fuel efficiency over conventional carburettor systems, as well as bring down CO2 emissions by 16 %.
For three-wheelers, the company has re-engineered parts such as its Lean Electronic Fuel Injection System (LEFIS), which is claimed to effectively address BS 6 norms and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint over time.
Apart from conventional powertrain, Bosch has a strong focus on e-mobility, developing customised solutions for electric vehicles. The electric powertrain system, for example, is engineered to achieve carbon neutrality, and is key to solving challenges in energy usage and climate change. The integrated system for light EVs, on the other hand, has been devised for performance classes ranging from 1 to 20 KW, to have an all-in-one solution that enables a safe and dynamic ride experience. This integrated system features a motor, control unit, battery as well as innovative connectivity functions.
Bosch also highlighted two technologies with respect to batteries. One is the Electronic Battery Sensor (EBS) that provides status updates of the 12 V lead-acid batteries used in EVs, while keeping the battery ageing effects at bay. These updates help the EBS to allow for the implementation of an optimised electrical-power management (EEM) system in the vehicle, which in turn results in the saving of fuel and CO2 emissions.
The other battery technology of note is the ‘Battery in the cloud’, which uses cloud-based swarm intelligence to help batteries maintain performance for longer as well as improve service life. The solution features smart algorithms that recognise battery stress factors and optimise the recharging process.
For smaller passenger cars, Bosch has the 48 V hybrid system that facilitates continued powertrain electrification with complete charging through recuperation. The system helps functions like advanced start-stop, regenerative braking and coasting, while also enhancing efficiency and driving experience.
Connectivity constitutes the other notable solutions from Bosch for the Indian market. Its long association with mobility services give the company thorough understanding of vehicle data, helping the company create solutions for the ecosystem. The multilevel security solutions by Bosch provide maximum data protection and data security, the company claims. 3D display, driver and passenger monitoring (AI), convenience charging and perfectly keyless solutions are some notable solutions.
From a safety standpoint, Bosch offers driver assistance systems that are enabled by data fusion and smartphone integration, making it possible for all OEMs to support the driver in complex and critical traffic situations. Solutions such as electronic stability program (ESP), predictive emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, traffic jam assist are some noticeable ADAS features.
We asked Bosch if the Indian market was right for introduction of niche rider assistance systems such as Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), particularly for mass market, high volume two-wheelers at affordable costs. As a technology, MSC is a standard platform feature in Europe and is still a niche solution. MSC as a standalone technology for mass market products could be a challenge, accepted Bosch, but then there are certain PoCs (proof of concepts) that are currently being worked upon that are more Indian user-centric. No further details were made available on this by the company.
It must be noted that technology-wise, the introduction of two-wheeler ABS has been a strong intervention in the Indian market. As per current figures, there are over one million two-wheelers plying on Indian roads with Bosch ABS, claimed the company. Moreover, there is the eCall, an emergency call system for cars that enables a faster emergency response in case of accidents and other emergencies. Bosch already delivers this service to Daimler in more than 50 countries and in 18 languages, and is now expanding its services to the rest of the world.
Both Dr Heyn and Bhattacharya assured that Bosch India is strongly committed to the mobility of the future. The cyclical as also the structural, changes are pushing the industry towards finding transformational solutions to address future mobility needs. They will be connected, electrified, automated and personalised and Bosch India, along with the support of a parent will play a very important role. The 18 plants in the Bosch group in India engages in systemic localisation in a phased manner, and the company ensures that parts, systems and solutions are affordable and innovative, and are made for India as also made in India.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah