Bosch is breaking new ground in Japan with its 48-volt electrification for two-wheelers and compact cars as well as ambitious plans for automated driving and connectivity.
Bosch is presenting its latest innovations for safer, more efficient, and more relaxed mobility at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show. Speaking at the company’s press conference at the event, Dr Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management, said: “At Bosch, we are making good progress in all three domains of future mobility: electrification, automation, and connectivity. We see special potential for fuel-cell technology and our 48-volt boost recuperation system for Japanese car manufactures”. Heyn emphasized the increasingly important role that Japanese car manufacturers have been playing in Bosch’s mobility business. “When it comes to our efforts to further develop automated driving, we will make Japan a key location for Bosch,” Heyn added.
Globally, the Bosch Group’s mobility business is growing considerably faster than the automotive market. The company expects to see sales growth of around ten percent in 2015, or five percent after adjusting for exchange-rate effects. Regionally, Asia Pacific continues to be a key driver of Bosch’s business. The company’s strong relationship with Japanese automotive manufacturers contributes strongly to this. “Thanks to our strong global presence, our sales to Japanese automakers grew by roughly 13 percent in 2014,” Heyn said. “Japanese manufacturers are increasingly focusing on small and efficient vehicles, and Bosch has the technologies they need.”
Where electromobility is concerned, Bosch offers a wide range of components and systems – from mild and plug-in hybrids, to fully-electric powertrains, to e-bikes and e-scooters. In Japan, the compact car segment is very popular, and with cost-effective solutions such as the 48-volt boost recuperation system, these smaller vehicles could be more fuel efficient and attractive. Compared to conventional 400 and above volt hybrids, the 48-volt system uses less expensive yet fuel efficient components, and enables additional comfort features as well as dynamic acceleration thanks to a boost function. The entry-level 48-volt hybrid is expected to be a new attractive option for drivers in Europe, North America, and Asia and Bosch expects some 4 million new vehicles worldwide to be equipped with this system in 2020.
More and more fuel-cell vehicles are being developed and manufactured for the Japanese market. As part of its electrification strategy, Bosch sees potential for this innovative technology and already offers first solutions.
With regards to battery technology, Bosch sees the potential for a great leap forward. It has acquired the US technology company Seeo, whose engineers have come up with a solid-state battery cell with a lithium anode. Up to now, the industry target has been to double batteries’ energy density and cut its cost in half by the end of this decade. Thanks to this solid-state technology, which complements the work of Bosch’s Lithium Energy and Power GmbH KG joint venture with its Japanese partners GS Yuasa International and Mitsubishi Corporation, the company believes even greater gains in energy density can be achieved. Bosch is using its knowledge and considerable financial resources to achieve a breakthrough for electromobility.
The increasing demand for road safety and mobility for an ageing society is making Japan an important market for automated driving. The Japanese government has announced plans for self-driving cars to be running on Tokyo’s roads during the 2020 Olympic Games. Bosch is developing the technologies to realize automated driving towards 2020. The company has now started testing on Japanese public roads, making Japan the third key Bosch location for developing automated driving. Since the beginning of 2013, Bosch has been testing vehicles fitted with automated driving technologies on public roads in Germany and the United States. “Due to different road and traffic conditions in Japan, we need to adjust and customise our system appropriately,” Heyn said. Bosch’s accident research predicts that increasing automation can lower accident rates significantly – by up to one-third in Germany alone.
The key to both automated and electrified driving is connectivity. Connected vehicles are safer, more efficient, and make driving more relaxed. Connectivity means, for instance, that drivers are warned about congestion and adverse weather conditions. Additionally, they are informed where to find available parking spaces and charging spots. Cars are also turning into digital media hubs as Bosch facilitates continuous access to online music services, social networks, and a wide range of smartphone apps. Connectivity technology also has applications in the aftermarket sector. For example, in the workshop of the future, augmented reality applications will streamline troubleshooting and repair, and thus contribute to reducing costs. Bosch is already in discussion with several customers in Japan about developing solutions based on this augmented reality technology.
Bosch also intends to reposition itself in the rapidly expanding global motorcycle market. In 2015, the company pooled its motorcycle activities from the areas of riding safety systems, powertrain technology and display instruments into one business unit, called “Two-Wheelers and Powersports.” Headquartered in Yokohama – the very heart of the international motorcycle industry – and with branch operations in the United States, Europe, India, and China, Bosch has a global reach in this area. This unit’s objective is to address the individual requirements of motorcycle OEMs more efficiently, and to focus exclusively on innovative two-wheeler solutions. With a portfolio spanning all product areas, the unit’s goal is to make two-wheelers safer and more efficient, while also making the ride more relaxed and enjoyable.