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How Bosch Juggles EV, ICE

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

In the auto industry, electrification is a big deal. Automakers announce new electric vehicles or electric versions of existing models. General Motors Co. even changed its corporate logo to reflect its move to EVs.

At the same time, internal combustion engines (ICE in industry-speak) will retain a major presence. Some estimates project ICE will still account for two-thirds of vehicle powertrains by 2030.

One major industry supplier is Robert Bosch GmbH of Germany. The company is working on electrification and improving ICE powertrains.

“We are striving at being at the forefront of powertrain innovation,” Mohammad Fatouraie, manager of system engineering in the company’s Powertrain Solutions division in North America.

Bosch is moving to meet the needs of automakers who are boosting their EV and hybrid offerings. But the supplier also must also strive to make ICE powertrains more efficient with fewer emissions.

To accomplish these goals, Bosch pursues both ends.

Bosch performs general research while targeting technology for commercialization. On the ICE end, Bosch is working on tech intended to improve how combustion engines work.

With traditional combustion engines, many of the emissions occur immediately after an engine turns on. This has been an issue for decades as automakers seek to pare emissions.

“Fundamentally, the physics doesn’t change and the chemistry doesn’t change,” Fatouraie said. “What has changed is the availability of the technologies.”

One way Bosch has advanced ICE is with devices that heat up catalytic converters so they work faster. Bosch also has turned to other tech.

“The cold start is still the most critical portion” for ICE emissions, he said.

“There is more technology and more readily available technology,” he added. Computers are faster. “We can handle more complex control logic. We are now implanting artificial intelligence.”

Besides its own research, Bosch teams up with its customers to develop technology.

“We don’t want to work in a vacuum,” Fatouraie said. “There needs to be a pull from the OEM side.”

As a result, Bosch works with its various automaker customers on programs. Specifics may vary from customer to customer.

For Bosch, the supplier needs to work both sides of the EV-ICE fence as the automaker evolves.

“We need to do both,” Fatouraie said. “It’s not either-or.”

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