Hybrid and electric vehicles are the way forward

Bosch expects hybrid and electric vehicles to have more than a three percent share of the world market by 2015, and so the company is continuing its development of automotive lithium-ion batteries.

Bosch already has its first orders for both petrol and diesel hybrids. Besides mild and strong hybrid concepts, Bosch also offers simpler methods for innovative start-stop technologies and the recovery of braking energy via the alternator, as these concepts also allow significant CO2 reductions to be made.

Bosch engineers regard the combination of internal combustion engine and electric motor in the hybrid or plug-in hybrid as an interim solution. Even so, the technical complexity of this solution is considerable, as is the additional weight it creates. One concept with a longer-term perspective is the “range extender,” since it has a combustion engine that serves solely to charge the battery, not to drive the vehicle itself, meaning that there is less “duplicated” technology on board. In addition, this concept allows purely electrically powered driving over medium distances. And thanks to the power delivered by its combustion engine, its range is greater.

The long-term objective is purely electrically powered driving, since this makes zero-emission driving possible. The market maturity of these electric vehicles will increase as engineers succeed in improving the energy and power density of battery technology, and as drivers become more willing to accept ranges of between 100 and 200 kilometres between recharging stops.

In combination with electric motors, petrol hybrids emit 25 percent less CO2 than conventional petrol engines and diesel hybrids 20 percent less than their conventional counterparts. Of the 91 million new passenger cars and light trucks worldwide in 2015, Bosch expects that more than three percent will be hybrid and electric vehicles. However, this figure may vary considerably, depending on future legislative requirements and progress in battery technology.

These figures show that the combustion engine will be the dominant drive form for the next 20 years. “In the future, however, people’s individual mobility requirements will determine which drive they choose,” says Bosch. In conurbations and mega-cities, for example, the potential of electric vehicles can be exploited to the full. When it comes to medium distances, concepts with a range extender make sense. On the other hand, constant improvements to diesel and petrol engines mean that they will remain the technology of choice for a long time when it comes to longer distances.