Mobility Solutions

Interview: Inspired by Rudolf Diesel and heading toward electrification
In this interview Dr. Markus Heyn, president of the Diesel Systems division of Robert Bosch GmbH, explains why diesel passenger cars are about to conquer the North American market and why electric drives for diesel trucks is an exciting prospect.

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  • November 14, 2013
  • Mobility Solutions
  • Press releases
  • Images: 4
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press release

Question: Dr. Heyn, while everybody is talking about electric motors and hybrid cars, the diesel engine refuses to die out. Why is this?

Answer: Quite simply because diesel keeps the world moving and will continue to do so for many decades to come: In passenger cars, diesel drive is the key to reaching ambitious emission targets, such as the EU’s aim to reduce fleet emissions to 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2020. The diesel engine also offers the ideal combination of fuel economy and driving pleasure, particularly appreciated by business travelers and commuters, which is why it is beginning to experience the same popularity among drivers overseas as it has traditionally enjoyed in Europe. Take the USA, for example: Here, Bosch considers a 10-percent market share for diesel in the light vehicle segment to be a realistic target for 2018. By 2017, the number of diesel vehicle models available on the North American market will be not far short of 60. And if we look at the development activities of the European carmakers, diesel and hybrid technologies are
not mutually exclusive. Currently available diesel hybrids such as the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 or the Volvo V60 prove this point.

Question: Most people automatically associate diesel vehicles with black smoke and choking exhaust fumes. This stands in stark contrast to the Bosch concept of Clean Diesel. Can you please explain the difference?

Answer: The image of sooty exhaust fumes is a throwback to memories of the 1980s. Clean Diesel relates to the modern generation of vehicles available on the market today. Compared with the diesel engines of the early 1990s, their modern equivalents produce 96 percent lower untreated NOx emissions and 98 percent lower particle emissions than their ancestors. This result is attributable to advanced fuel injection systems with multiple valves and to advanced exhaust treatment systems. The Bosch Denoxtronic system enables even the heaviest diesel trucks to be equipped with engines that comply with tomorrow’s demanding emission standards such as Euro 6. And diesel engines for passenger cars are now so much quieter that they are barely indistinguishable from gasoline engines in terms of noise levels. Added to which, the CO2 emissions of advanced diesel engines are up to 25 percent lower than those of comparable gasoline engines.

Question: At the same time, the number of vehicles on the road in Germany is constantly going up – especially utility vehicles, which almost exclusively run on diesel. There are already more than 2.6 million trucks registered in Germany, a figure that is set to increase. What technical advances can we expect here?

Answer: Trucks running on diesel keep the world moving – for instance delivering the majority of the goods that you order via the internet. Diesel trucks also transport daily supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables and meat to stores throughout the country. This can be done at low cost, because modern diesel engines for trucks are very fuel-efficient. To reduce fuel consumption even further, we have to look at the whole diesel drive train. Anyone who wants to improve the efficiency of diesel engines in trucks must ensure that all systems, including fuel injection, exhaust turbocharger, exhaust gas recirculation, and last but not least exhaust treatment, are perfectly matched.

Question: From what you say, it sounds as though there’s no alternative to diesel for trucks. Not even with alternative drive concepts?

Answer: Of course, alternative drive concepts are an exciting topic that also applies to heavy commercial vehicles. The strengths of the electrified drive are utilized in trucks. It permits fuel savings of six percent over and above those offered by the diesel engine in long-distance transportation, and even up to 20 percent in local distribution. This in turn reduces CO2 emissions by an equivalent amount. Alongside electrification, we are also driving forward the development of natural gas drives for trucks. Bosch already has a monovalent Natural Gas System in series production. At the same time we are developing injection technology for dual-fuel systems that allow trucks to run on either diesel or natural gas as required. A truck equipped with this type of system can be used in regions where the gas infrastructure is limited. So as you can see, we are working on ways of enabling alternative drives to be used in diesel trucks as well as cars.

Question: Natural gas, electrification – it sounds as if there are numerous alternative approaches to be going on with. Do you think diesel engines will still exist 100 years from now?

Answer: 100 years is a long time – but as Rudolf Diesel once said: “My engine is continuing to make great progress”. His words are our inspiration, and we are continuing to develop the diesel engine still further. Be it as I have described by optimizing the workings of the engine itself, for instance by increasing the pressure to achieve even better combustion, or by combining a diesel drive system with electric components and/or a natural gas drive. So my answer is yes: we will still be driving diesel in the decades to come.

Videos including statements of Dr. Markus Heyn:

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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.”

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PI8374 - November 14, 2013

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