Mobility Solutions

Powertrain of the future Bosch forecast: electrification will take combustion engines to new heights

  • Some 15 percent of new vehicles to have at least a hybrid powertrain by 2025
  • Clean combustion engines for Euro 6, China 4, and U.S. LEV emissions standards
  • Dr. Rolf Bulander: “Bits and bytes are making cars more efficient”
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  • May 19, 2015
  • Mobility Solutions
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Downsizing, hybrids, electric vehicles – in the future anyone taking a look under the hood is likely to find much more than a conventional gasoline or diesel engine. Bosch is demonstrating just that at the 62nd International Automotive Press Briefing in Boxberg, Germany. But while a lot is changing, the internal-combustion (IC) engine will still continue to play a major role over the next decade. In five years’ time, far over 90 percent of new vehicles will still be powered at least partially by fossil fuels. This is particularly true of markets such as China and the United States. “Modern combustion technology is the bedrock of efficient mobility,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, chairman of the Bosch business sector Mobility Solutions and member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH.

We are also seeing the beginning of a transition toward electromobility: Bosch expects that in 2025 around 15 percent of all new vehicles built worldwide will have at least a hybrid powertrain, while in Europe more than a third of all new cars will be at least partly electrically powered. Bulander is convinced: “Electrification will take combustion engines to new heights.” Vehicles are becoming cleaner and more efficient – and the additional electrical powertrain will provide extra driving enjoyment.

Internal-combustion engine as the bedrock for efficient mobility
Modern IC engines have made significant technical advances in recent years, as a look at Europe clearly shows. Since 2000, the fleet CO2 emissions for cars in Europe have sunk by a quarter – even though vehicle performance and weight increased over the same period. Drivers are noticing this improvement at the pumps: standard fuel consumption for compact cars with a gasoline engine is nowadays often under 7 l/100 km, and less than 5 l/100 km for diesel engines.

Still, it is no longer enough for powertrains simply to be fuel-efficient – they need to become even cleaner as well. One need only look at stringent emission legislation, such as Euro 6, China 4, or LEV in the United States. Making powertrains as clean as they are efficient calls for particularly sophisticated technology. Bosch is showcasing a number of new products designed to achieve this. For gasoline engines, for example, there is gasoline direct injection at a pressure of 350 bar in place of the previous 200 bar. The higher pressure means the fuel is more finely atomized, significantly reducing particulates.

Bosch is also paying particular attention to the ongoing development of the diesel engine. “Diesel is a key technology for achieving fleet CO2 emission targets. Particularly in Europe, they aren’t achievable without it,” says Bulander. In order to improve the modern clean diesel still further, Bosch is applying a systems approach. One of the vital technologies in this regard is Denoxtronic, which can reduce nitrogen oxide by up to 95 percent in real driving cycles. What is more, systematically combining cleaner combustion, optimized exhaust-gas recirculation, and exhaust-gas treatment significantly reduces emissions.

Hybrids: electrification will take combustion engines to new heights
When it comes to big, heavy vehicles, however, merely optimizing the IC engine is no longer enough. It is Bosch’s belief that the EU’s stringent fleet CO2 targets for 2021 means that hybrid powertrains will be available for every SUV on the market. That is why Bosch has begun to invest today. Each year, the technology and service provider invests almost 400 million euros in electromobility development. There are currently around 30 vehicle models in production that feature Bosch technology – in the U.S., in China, and at German premium manufacturers. Bosch components can be found in Porsche’s hybrid sports cars, in Mercedes hybrid models, as well as in vehicles such as the BMW i3 with Range Extender. Particularly in hybrids and plug-in-hybrids, Bosch sees considerable future market potential. In 2020, over 9.5 million of them are expected to roll off the production lines.

This goes to show that electrification is not a competitor to the IC engine, but rather complements it. Bosch’s new boost recuperation system is a prime example of this. The entry-level 48-volt hybrid enables a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 7 percent in the driving cycle for compact vehicles. This is mainly achieved through the recuperation of braking energy. A coasting function that switches off the engine at high speeds by means of the start-stop mechanism can increase fuel savings even more. The 48-volt hybrid also features a boost function – which goes to show that also in entry-level hybrids, fuel savings go hand in hand with driving enjoyment. When drivers step on the accelerator pedal, the electric motor supports the IC engine with up to 150 newton meters of torque.

Electromobility: electric cars are good but connected electric cars are better
High-voltage solutions are even more dynamic, since electric motors supply the full amount of torque right from the start. Still, if electric cars are to lose their niche status over the coming years, the vehicles must become significantly cheaper. Battery technology is key to this process. “Bosch anticipates that by 2020 batteries will offer twice the energy density for half the present cost,” says Bulander. To research the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, Bosch has partnered with GS Yuasa and Mitsubishi Corporation to establish the Lithium Energy and Power joint venture. Here, the partners are pooling their strengths: GS Yuasa is applying its experience in cell optimization so that a battery with
a higher energy density and increased range can be produced. Bosch is contributing its expertise in complex battery management and system integration.

In addition to this, increasing internet connectivity will make electric vehicles a more practicable everyday option: “Electric cars are good but connected electric cars are better,” says Bulander. This belief is underscored by a new smartphone app from Bosch Software Innovations. The Bosch Group’s software and systems unit has developed an app that makes it significantly easier to reserve the charge spots of different providers and pay for the electricity. Up to now, a different customer card was required for each provider. Now all drivers need to recharge anywhere in Germany is a smartphone, the app, and a PayPal account.

Connectivity in electrified powertrains is going even further. After all, only connected vehicles can fully exploit the potential offered by electrification. “Bits and bytes are making cars more efficient,” says Bulander. One example of this is the connected electronic horizon solution, a Bosch technology that will in the future provide essential traffic information about mobile construction sites, traffic jams, and accidents in real time. This will be highly beneficial for internal combustion engines and electric powertrains alike, since the extremely accurate data will serve to improve existing functions, such as start-stop coasting. At the same time, plug-in hybrids can utilize the technology to implement a predictive operating strategy. These are the sorts of technologies that will again reduce CO2 emissions by a double-digit percentage in powertrains that are already very efficient.

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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PI8903 - May 19, 2015

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