This is what nobody else is reporting
We wrote an article recently about Bosch providing the first $450 Level 2 home charging system (found here). Upon reading the news of Bosch announcing a 180 mile range mass market electric vehicle (EV) by 2020 (found here), we thought that we needed to do some homework. So we undertook a mission to determine the company’s EV creds.
Bosch entered the automotive business in 1897 creating one of the first automobile ignition systems. In 1923 Bosch created a low tire pressure sensor, a technology that is required on all cars sold in the United States since model year 2008. In 1932 Bosch developed the Blaupunkt Autosuper 5 car radio – the first series produced car radio system. The Blaupunkt audio systems could be found in luxury German cars for years and developed a strong reputation for quality. In 1958 Bosch brought the first automotive electronic component to the automobile. This first semiconductor for a passenger car regulated electrical flow to the battery. In other words, Bosch developed the automobile’s first electronic battery management system, a very important system on all electric cars today. Bosch went on to develop such safety systems as anti-lock braking and electronic stability control. The Robert Bosch company has a proven record of innovation and creativity in the automobile business dating back well over 100 years.
We think this short look into the history of the company is important, as it provides perspective in weighing the company’s announcement of a 180 mile plus EV in a few years. Many claims regarding EVs have been made – especially over the past five years or so – without much to back them up. Bosch has a proven track record in automotive technology, including in the EV and alternative energy space.
As an automotive supplier, Bosch is typically among the top five global automotive suppliers with periods of time being the largest in the world. As a segment of the Robert Bosch Group, the Automotive Technology business sector provided almost 60 percent of the overall group sales in 2012. The company works not only in the EV sector but in alternative powertrains as well. Bosch has developed a hydraulic hybrid system that uses in essence a giant gas shock absorber to store kinetic energy while braking. The pneumatic pressure accumulator then makes that power available when accelerating. This system is optimized to improve city traffic fuel consumption, and was just awarded the Engine of the Year award by 78 journalists from 36 countries (found here).
In April 2011 Bosch announced a joint venture with Daimler AG to produce electric motors for the Daimler produced Smart Electric Drive beginning in 2012 (found here). While Bosch does not provide the Smart battery pack (that comes from Tesla due to Daimler’s prior agreement with Tesla), Bosch provides the battery management system. At the time of the announcement, Bosch stated that it had 20 years of experience with electric vehicles including the motor and the battery. Prior to this in 2008, Bosch announced a joint venture with Samsung to create a lithium-ion battery group known as SB LiMotive Company. Plans included development, manufacture, and sales of lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. The Fiat 500e is the first automobile to use a Bosch battery pack. In December 2012 Bosch announced the creation of Robert Bosch Battery Systems, ending its SB LiMotive partnership with Samsung though continuing to source battery cells from Samsung SDI. Interestingly, with the severance of the joint venture agreement, both former partners agreed to share patent technology.
As we see it, Bosch has a strong, proven record of automotive innovation. With 2012 revenue of over $50 billion it would seem that they have the needed deep pockets to fund the needed research and development work. Finally, as a supplier to major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) worldwide, they have a vested interest in continuing to improve their game. With an electric motor in one car and a traction battery in another, it’s only a matter of time before we see a complete EV drivetrain provided as an entire drivetrain solution. So when Bosch says that we could see a 180 mile range electric car by 2020, it is probably worth listening.