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The “start-up” powertrain for electric cars: the Bosch e-axle offers greater range

  • New development: more efficient and affordable than other electrical powertrains
  • All-in-one principle speeds up automakers’ development times
  • Bosch board of management member Dr. Rolf Bulander: “Economically speaking, the e-axle may turn out to be a major coup”
  • More details on electromobility at Bosch can be found on this website.

Gerlingen, Germany – It’s now common knowledge that a more powerful battery will increase an electric car’s range. But can a new powertrain have a comparable impact? In the case of the Bosch electric axle drive, or e-axle, the answer is a definite yes. What’s so special about it is that Bosch has combined three powertrain components into one unit. The motor, power electronics, and transmission form one compact unit that directly drives the car’s axle. This makes the powertrain not only far more efficient, but more affordable as well. “With its e-axle, Bosch is applying the all-in-one principle to the powertrain,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector. It is precisely for this reason that the new powertrain is a potentially huge business opportunity for Bosch. The components are very flexible, which means the e-axle can be installed in hybrids and electric cars, compact cars, SUVs, and even light trucks – a huge market.

A powertrain that also speeds up development times

“Economically speaking, the e-axle may turn out to be a major coup for Bosch,” Bulander says. The novel electrical powertrain is playing a key role in the company’s drive to be the global mass-market leader for electromobility from 2020. On the world’s roads, there are already well over 500,000 electric and hybrid cars fitted with Bosch components. Bosch thus has many years of experience in the manufacture of electric motors, axle drives, and power electronics. The expertise it has gathered in the process is now bearing fruit in its newly developed electric axle. With this component alone, Bosch is hoping to generate sales running into the billions.

The e-axle is the ‘start-up’ powertrain for electric cars – also at established automakers. It allows them to save valuable development time and to get their electric vehicles to market considerably faster.

Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector

As Bosch customizes the powertrain to each automaker’s requirements, customers no longer have the time-consuming task of developing new components. Samples of the electric axle have already been tested with customers. The start of mass production is planned for 2019. Bosch already has a flexible, globally applicable manufacturing concept for this component. The concept guarantees that each customer will get a customized solution that can be quickly integrated into its manufacturing operations.

Up to 6,000 Newton meters of torque and 300 kilowatts of power

The e-axle’s USP is its high level of versatility, which means it can be adapted to many types of vehicles. “Instead of reams of specifications, a few parameters are enough for Bosch to customize the e-axle,” says Dr. Mathias Pillin, the executive vice president for electromobility. All the customer has to do is state what performance, torque, and installation space they require, and Bosch then optimizes the rest of the powertrain to fit these parameters. In this way, a complete, customized powertrain can be delivered directly to an automaker’s assembly line. This is a further reason why the Bosch electric axle is the next logical step for powertrain engineering.

The powertrain can deliver between 50 and 300 kilowatts, and is therefore also capable of powering large vehicles such as SUVs completely electrically. Torque at the vehicle axle can range from 1,000 to 6,000 Newton meters. When installed in hybrid and electric vehicles, front- and rear-axle drive is possible. An electric axle delivering 150 kilowatts weighs roughly 90 kilograms, and thus far less than the combined individual components used so far. Compared with competing products, the distinguishing feature of the Bosch electric axle is an especially high peak performance combined with a high level of continuous performance. In other words, the electrical powertrain can accelerate better and maintain a high speed for a longer period. To achieve this, Bosch has not only redesigned the system as a whole, but also improved the motor and power electronics components.

Q&A – Additional information about the Bosch electric axle

What makes the electric axle more efficient than previous electrical powertrains?

Highly efficient individual components are the basis for a high level of overall efficiency. In this respect, Bosch has the benefit of years of experience in the market. In addition, efficiency losses are minimized by reducing interfaces and components such as high-voltage cables, plugs, and cooling units. One of Bosch’s strengths is its ability to combine individual components to form systems, to use the interactions in the system, and in this way to arrive at an overall optimum. In the case of the e-axle, this relates not only to efficiency, but also to things such as acoustics and electromagnetic compatibility.

When will the e-axle be available in the market?

Bosch has had electric axle drives in the market since 2012 (in the Peugeot 3008 and Fiat 500e, for example), but the power electronics was not fully integrated into them. With the new generation of the electric axle, Bosch is in the development phase, and is in contact with automakers from around the world. More precisely, samples of the electric axle are ready for use, and are currently being tested. Start of production is planned for 2019 at the latest.

What vehicles can it be used in?

The Bosch electric axle is designed so that it can be adapted to many types of vehicles. When installed in hybrid and electric vehicles, front- and rear-axle drive is possible. This applies to any vehicles up to a total weight of 7.5 metric tons, and thus to light trucks as well as passenger cars.

Why is the e-axle less expensive than the powertrains used up to now for electric cars?

Since the e-axle combines power electronics, electric motor, and transmission in a single component, fewer parts are needed. For example, the new electric powertrain does completely without thick and expensive copper cables linking the components. In addition, the cooling system can be simplified, and there is no need for bearings for rotating components. This reduces the powertrain’s cost while increasing its efficiency. Placing the transmission close to the motor saves valuable installation space, which is always an important factor in the auto industry.

How deeply is Bosch involved in electromobility?

On the world’s roads, there are already well over 500,000 electric and hybrid cars fitted with Bosch components. In its efforts to make a breakthrough in electromobility possible alone, the company invests 400 million euros annually. The company has already won more than 30 electromobility-related orders from international automakers.

Tags: Elektromobilität, Powertrain, Motor, electric engine, e-axle

The Bosch innovations on show at the IAA 2017

EXPERIENCE BOSCH AT THE IAA 2017 in Frankfurt: Bosch believes the mobility of the future will be accident-free, emissions-free, and stress-free. On a technological level, Bosch wants to achieve the objectives of zero accidents, zero emissions, and zero stress through automation, electrification, and connectivity. At the IAA 2017, Bosch will be presenting its latest solutions in each of these three spheres – solutions that make driving safer and more efficient, and turn cars into a third living environment.

BOSCH PRESS CONFERENCE: From 13:15 to 13:40 local time on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, with Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and Dr. Rolf Bulander, chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector, at the Bosch booth A03 in Hall 8.

FOLLOW the Bosch IAA 2017 highlights at www.bosch-iaa.de and on Twitter: #BoschIAA

Mobility Solutions is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2016, its sales came to 43.9 billion euros, or 60 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 390,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2016). The company generated sales of 73.1 billion euros in 2016. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. 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.” 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 nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 120 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 59,000 associates in research and development.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, iot.bosch.com, www.bosch-press.com, www.twitter.com/BoschPresse.