Automotive technology

Gas-powered cars: CNG is not LPG The operating costs, service station networks, and conversion
costs for compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas

What are the advantages of gas-powered vehicles?
Both CNG and LPG powertrain systems are cheaper and more eco-friendly in cars than diesel or gasoline systems. Their combustion is comparably cleaner, reducing emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides. Both fuels are also cheaper than gasoline or diesel. Thanks to low production costs and tax incentives, compressed natural gas (CNG) costs drivers up to 50 percent less. However, gas-powered vehicles are a little more expensive to buy than gasoline-powered ones, because they are generally equipped with two fuel systems (gasoline and CNG/LPG). More and more automakers are offering CNG vehicles ex works, with the difference in price comparable to that between diesel and gasoline variants. In Germany, CNG powertrains in passenger cars pay off as soon as annual mileage exceeds 7,000 kilometers. Compared with a conventional gasoline engine, a gas-powered vehicle generating the same power will emit 25 percent less CO2. This is due to the chemical properties of this fuel source. The CO2 savings offered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are somewhat lower – but then it is somewhat cheaper to convert a vehicle to LPG than it is to buy a CNG system ex works.

Quotation: “Naturalgas systems already have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions at little extra cost. Technologically, this is an area in which Bosch components lead the way. However, CNG-powered vehicles will become more popular in the market only if the infrastructure is significantly expanded.” (Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, responsible for research and development)

LPG or CNG – which fuel is cheaper?
In Germany, both fuels enjoy tax incentives, which will last until 2018. On the sign outside a service station, LPG can often seem cheaper than CNG. But that is only half the story. CNG, a gas, is priced in kilograms, while LPG, a liquid, is priced in liters. “If all you go on is the prices advertised at service stations, then you’re comparing apples with oranges,” says Heiko Kaiser, a gas systems expert at Bosch. After all, one kilogram of CNG contains the same energy as around two liters of LPG. Expressed another way, it is around a third cheaper to obtain one kilowatt-hour of energy from CNG than it is from LPG.

Is it better to convert or buy ex works?
While a number of automakers are now offering CNG systems ex works, LPG systems often still come as retrofit solutions. This involves taking the vehicle to a workshop and having it fitted with a second fuel system. Since these retrofit systems generally offer nothing like the quality or durability of an OEM system, additional costs and visits to the workshop are almost guaranteed. It’s a different story with CNG cars, since these systems are almost always integrated into the vehicle ex works. The Volkswagen Group, Fiat, and Opel, for instance, all offer new vehicles fitted with Bosch CNG systems. These vehicles leave the same impression of quality and longevity as comparable variants equipped with gasoline systems. They can switch back and forth between CNG and gasoline whenever necessary, without the driver noticing. The Bosch system can start on CNG even when it is cold, which means that customers can practically always drive on the more cheaply priced CNG. Other systems have to use expensive gasoline to warm up in the start-up phase.

Where can I fill up on LPG and CNG?
Currently, the LPG network in Germany stretches to some 6,500 service stations. CNG service stations are also becoming more widespread; there are already around 1,000 of them. What’s more, virtually all vehicles fitted with a CNG system ex works also feature a small reserve tank for gasoline. “The gasoline reserve tank guarantees mobility even if there is no CNG service station nearby,” says Heiko Kaiser. Apps and navigation systems can also help locate the nearest service station.

CNG or LPG – what’s the difference?
Compressed natural gas – CNG for short – is made up of molecules of CH4. This combination of one carbon atom with four hydrogen atoms carries a lot of energy. Natural gas is also used in heating systems and in gas ranges. Liquefied petroleum gas – LPG for short – is a mixture of propane (C3H8), propylene (C3H6), butane (C4H10), and butylene (C4H8). This is the mixture often found in camping stoves. LPG’s exact composition varies from region to region. In Germany, for instance, LPG is largely made up of propane and propylene. In France, however, it is largely made up of butane and butylene. It is the composition of a given blend of LPG that determines its antiknock quality and the rate at which fuel is consumed. For instance, LPG rich in butane carries a lot more energy than LPG rich in propane. In winter, drivers of LPG vehicles must be sure to fill up with what is known as “winter gas,” which contains a higher proportion of propane, since it is much more difficult to vaporize butane in the cold.

Video animation:
CNG powertrains

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  • July 29, 2014
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Supporting young talent on the race track Bosch backing for 35 Formula Student Germany race teams

  • 250 students test formula race cars at Bosch proving ground in Boxberg
  • Bosch and ETAS are main sponsors for the design competition
  • Bosch looks to recruit 800 university graduates in Germany
Boxberg/Hockenheim – More than 250 students are receiving backing from Bosch as they prepare race cars built to their own designs to take part in Formula Student Germany (FSG). In all, Bosch welcomed 25 teams to the Bosch proving ground in Boxberg for the students to prepare their cars to race in the international design competition at the Hockenheimring. Over two days, the students had the chance to test and optimize their vehicles under race conditions on Bosch’s test circuits, with Bosch experts on hand to contribute their know-how in support of the young engineers. 2014 is the first year that the Bosch Group is backing university teams from more than ten countries.

International engagement
Bosch is supporting more than 35 rae teams worldwide, including teams from Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Poland, the United States, India, China, Australia, and Brazil. “Across the world, the formula student competitions have proven to be a successful way of combining lecture theory with the practical challenges engineers face in their daily work,” says Bernhard Bihr, president of Bosch Engineering GmbH. Bosch has been FSG’s main sponsor since 2007. Alongside Bosch Engineering, which specializes in development services, another Bosch subsidiary, ETAS GmbH, is also active in FSG.

Tailored support
Bosch provides more than money to help the student teams plan, design, and build their formula race cars. Its sponsorship encompasses specialized workshops addressing topics such as cable harness design, safety when working with high voltages, and measurement techniques, as well as vehicle-testing events. Teams are also provided with motorsport components and software, while expert advice and help from Bosch vehicle development and system design specialists completes the support package.

Annual preparatory track event
The test workshop at the Bosch proving ground in Boxberg has become a fixture for race teams, and they returned this year to test their self-developed and self-built cars under race conditions from July 18-19. The teams ran through all the tests just as they will at the FSG race at the Hockenheimring, including technical inspections and various tests of acceleration and endurance. During these two days, there were 40 Bosch and ETAS engineers on hand to help the teams and offer practical advice.

Seeking out new talent on the race track
Bosch’s longstanding commitment to the Formula Student competition serves to support the next generation of engineers, to offer the best possible conditions for testing and design, and to provide the company with an opportunity to market itself as an employer to a range of highly qualified specialists. “FSG brings us into contact with highly motivated and qualified young engineers who are working on an exciting and interdisciplinary project,” says Bihr. “At the same time, we as a company have the chance to showcase ourselves as an attractive and innovative employer.” This year, Bosch plans to recruit 9,000 university graduates worldwide – including 800 in Germany alone.

Preparation for working life
“The competition is an excellent way to prepare for working life,” says Karl Kloess, system designer for battery systems and high-voltage onboard electronics at Bosch Engineering in Abstatt. Until two years ago, Kloess was head of battery development for DHBW Ravensburg’s Formula Student team, Global Formula Racing. “During my time competing at FSG, I learnt many things that I can apply to my job today, for instance the importance of interfaces. It’s not just individual technical components that make up a car but also the way they work together within the system as a whole. This is just as true for a team of people: whether it’s within Formula Student or in working life, it’s important to work together as a team, to exchange views, and to have an exciting project to work on together.”

Bosch as an employer:

Formula Student preparatory workshop:
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  • July 28, 2014
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Automotive technology milestones: Bosch TravelPilot production began 25 years ago First series production navigation system in Europe

  • Fast route calculation and reliable car navigation in road traffic
  • From destination finding to dynamic route guidance and mobile navigation to navigation as a sensor
  • Today, Bosch navigation can optimize a vehicle’s aggregate energy consumption
Hildesheim. For more than 25 years, navigation systems have been guiding car users in Germany safely from A to B, and now they are even capable of optimizing the vehicle’s energy consumption. Depending on the topography of the route, eco-navigation can achieve average fuel savings of around nine percent. Accordingly, CO2 emissions can also be reduced significantly.

In 1989 Bosch began series production of the TravelPilot IDS (Identification of Digitized Streets), the first autonomous destination-finding and navigation system for use on European roads. With a map displayed on a 4.5-inch monitor, it kept the driver informed about the vehicle’s current position within the road network and employed simple arrow symbols to indicate the direction to the destination as well as available road links leading to the chosen destination.

Electronic road map for car drivers
Twenty-five years ago, the TravelPilot IDS utilized dead reckoning navigation to get a precise position fix within the digitized road network. The system used information from specially installed wheel sensors to work out which route sections the car had driven along, and it detected changes in direction by means of an electronic compass with a magnetic gyroscope. This dead reckoning method was additionally supported by the data included in the road maps. The road layouts of major German cities and the interconnecting road network were stored on a compact disc.

Bosch initially introduced the TravelPilot IDS in Germany in 1989. To increase the precision with which the vehicle’s position could be determined, the system was upgraded in 1993 with a receiver for the Global Positioning System (GPS). During the early years, the Bosch navigation systems were utilized in many areas, though mainly for professional use. At the time, the Los Angeles Fire Department, for instance, equipped more than 400 of its vehicles with the Bosch navigation system to get them to their destination quickly and safely.

Spoken and visual driving recommendations
In the mid-nineties, navigation systems were then already capable of providing drivers with directions by means of easy-to-understand voice output and directional symbols. Enhanced software applications developed by Bosch engineers that offered drivers specific information about tourist, cultural and gastronomic destinations and about parking facilities, filling stations and repair workshops were a source of fresh impetus in the field of car navigation technology at the time.

In 1998, Bosch development engineers made navigation dynamic. The systems could then for the first time process traffic reports from the Traffic Message Channel (TMC), which allowed them to react to traffic problems in good time, thus boosting the convenience and safety of car driving still further. With this application, Bosch became the first manufacturer to demonstrate the now-often-cited benefits of connecting cars to the outside world.

Portable navigation devices offer straightforward plug and play
The generation of devices emerging during the first decade of the new millennium was strongly characterized by the newly developed market segment of Portable Navigation Devices (PND). These compact units could be installed in any vehicle quickly and easily and featured convenient touch-screen operation. Bosch’s mobile generation already offered early driver assistance functions, like graphical and acoustic speed-limit warnings.

Convenient route planning in connected infotainment systems
Vehicle navigation has meanwhile typically become a component of connected infotainment systems offering a wide variety of options.
The latest map-based navigation systems from Bosch now provide two- and three-dimensional views, an economic route option for saving fuel, lane guidance, a curve warning assistant, and connectivity to apps that support navigation functions. In addition to this, drivers can also conveniently plan their route on their desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone and send the destination address to the system in their car directly from home.

Navigation as a sensor – the electronic horizon
Bosch navigation also provides an "electronic horizon", that is to say, the systems look far ahead and supply information about the course of the route being driven, such as details about bends, road gradients, and driving lanes. This allows Bosch navigation systems to recommend routes that are particularly energy-efficient – thus encouraging fuel-efficient motoring – and, in the case of electric vehicles, enables them to calculate the remaining range with considerably greater accuracy.

Navigation data optimizes aggregate energy consumption
In the spring of 2014, Bosch developed a system for hybrid vehicles described as "an innovative technology for reducing CO2 emissions". The system uses navigation data to adjust the vehicle’s battery charge state. The technology that the EU Commission furthermore recognizes as an "eco-innovation" provides a benefit that can be used as a credit to offset the passenger car fleet consumption of the respective automobile manufacturer.

Using topographical navigation data such as uphill and downhill gradients and bend radii, the Bosch system can determine which sections of the route are suitable for recovering braking energy. Long before the vehicle reaches these sections, the system adjusts the level of battery charge based on the navigation data so that optimum recuperation will be possible. "With the intelligent link between extended navigation data and special powertrain control algorithms, we ensure that both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced significantly," says Manfred Baden, President of the Bosch Car Multimedia division.

Navigation systems can thus nowadays not only provide convenient and safe route guidance from A to B – as they already could 25 years ago – but are also capable of optimizing the vehicle’s aggregate energy consumption.

Electronic horizon: how it works (connectivity of navigation)
Historical film about TravelPilot IDS
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  • July 28, 2014
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Gasoline or diesel? A Bosch info chart helps drivers reach the best decision

Rule of thumb: The generally accepted rule is that diesel is worthwhile for people who drive a lot, and that anyone else should choose a gasoline-driven car. After all, a diesel-powered car consumes up to 25 percent less fuel, but gasoline-powered cars are often cheaper in terms of purchase price, insurance, and running costs. In Germany, depending on the model, a diesel-powered car will be worth the extra investment if annual mileage exceeds 15,000 kilometers.

Both powertrains have their strengths: When deciding which powertrain to choose, however, drivers should consider more than just annual mileage: “Both powertrains have their strengths in different vehicle classes. A modern gasoline powertrain makes even affordable compact cars efficient, while an advanced diesel powertrain can keep consumption low and driving enjoyment high in a big station wagon,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. There are similar advantages in other segments as well: while the responsiveness of modern gasoline powertrains makes them stand out in thoroughbred sports cars, the strong torque of the diesel powertrain is best for large SUVs.

Info chart: Bosch has put together a compact chart outlining the information drivers need to make the right choice. The advantages of the two powertrains are compared, and those who are uncertain can decide whether their individual driving profile is best suited to the diesel or gasoline variant. In addition, the info chart provides insights into the German car market, and shows the best-selling gasoline and diesel models.
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  • July 21, 2014
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