Mobility Solutions

100 years of electricity in the car From Bosch automotive lighting system to entry-level hybrid

  • Bosch is turning the generator into a motor for hybrids
  • In 1913, the generator opened the way for on-board networks, and developments such as the car radio, windshield wiper, and modern safety systems such as ESP(R)
  • Boost recuperation system as an affordable entry-level hybrid
Add to my press materials
Save text
  • October 15, 2013
  • Mobility Solutions
  • Press releases
  • Images: 8

press release

One hundred years ago, Bosch brought electricity into the car: a generator launched in 1913 powered the “Bosch-Licht,” the world’s first automotive lighting system. In the years that followed, the generator increasingly became the automobile’s power station. Today, it supplies power to things such as the car radio, power windows, air-conditioning system, and safety systems such as ESP(R). Now, in the Bosch boost recuperation system, it delivers 10 kilowatts of power to support the combustion engine, allowing a fuel saving of as much as 15 percent. “Bosch is turning the generator into a motor. In this way, we are making hybridization affordable. The Bosch boost recuperation system is a hybrid everyone can afford,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. What makes this possible is a new form of hybrid based on appropriate components and a 48-volt on-board network.

Up to now, the standard has been 12 volts, with the generator tending to work in the background: a gray cylinder, hidden deep in the recesses of the engine compartment, driven via a belt by the engine’s crankshaft. Yet without the generator, the car as an everyday means of transport would be inconceivable. There would be no headlights for driving at night, no wipers for driving in the rain, and no electrical starter – the engine would have to started by crank handle.

Explosive mixtures give way to the touch of a button
In the early days, the generator was a means to an end: driven by the engine, it was intended to generate the power needed to operate electric automotive lighting. Prior to this, carbide lamps were the preferred solution. But long-distance drives using these lamps were a tiresome affair: they had to be extinguished when driving through many towns. This meant igniting the carbide lamps anew.
Things were simpler with the Bosch automotive lighting system, which could be switched on and off at the touch of a button. The first generators were launched in 1913, complete with headlights, regulator, and battery. The generator became an indispensable power station for all the electrical consumers that make today’s driving safer and more comfortable.

Generator for electromobility
One hundred years after the launch of electric headlights, Bosch is taking the development of the generator a decisive step forward: it is being transformed from a power supplier to part of the powertrain of an affordable entry-level hybrid. “The Bosch boost recuperation system makes the economical hybrid powertrain affordable in the compact class as well,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander. Apart from a more powerful generator, the system comprises a scaled-down lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 0.25 kilo-watt-hours, and a 48-volt onboard sub-network.
This innovative Bosch powertrain component brings four functions together in one system: recuperation, boost, start-stop, and coasting. The fuel saving that can be achieved is as much as 15 percent, with a further 10 percent possible in real operation when coasting with the engine stopped. The 48-volt onboard network quickly and efficiently stores the surplus energy generated when braking in the lithium-ion battery. On demand, this energy is returned to the generator, which then acts as a supplementary motor.

download BRS brochure

Click here to find further information.

Mobility Solutions is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2015, its sales came to 41.7 billion euros, or 59 percent of total group sales. This makes the Bosch Group one of the leading automotive suppliers. The Mobility Solutions business sector combines the group’s expertise in three mobility domains – automation, electrification, and connectivity – and offers its customers integrated mobility solutions. Its main areas of activity are injection technology and powertrain peripherals for internal-combustion engines, diverse solutions for powertrain electrification, vehicle safety systems, driver-assistance and automated functions, technology for user-friendly infotainment as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, repair-shop concepts, and technology and services for the automotive aftermarket. Bosch is synonymous with important automotive innovations, such as electronic engine management, the ESP anti-skid system, and common-rail diesel technology.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

Further information is available online at and,

PI8353 - October 15, 2013

Your contact person for journalists

Florian Flaig

+49 711 811-6282 Send Email

Share this information