Bernd Bohr, Bosch's automotive group chairman
By Kim Tae-gyu
Everybody knows that the future belongs to electric vehicles. But the difficult part is to answer exactly when ``the future’’ is, an issue that has prompted diverse responses from experts.
Here is an insightful answer from a top executive of the world’s foremost automobile component maker, Bosch, who says the future will be in some 15 years, around 2025.
``We see the market for electric vehicles will be on the lower side until 2020 when their market share will be 3 to 5 percent, which is quite a niche market,’’ Bernd Bohr, chairman of Bosch’s automotive group, said late last week on the sidelines of its biennial press colloquium at its offices in Boxberg, Germany.
An electric car is parked at the Bosch office in Boxberg, Germany. / Coutesy of Bosch
``But after 2020, the share of electric vehicles will rise as battery costs go down year after year. By the end of the next decade toward 2030, we will see a pretty high market share of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.’’
Bosch expects that the sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids would be in the vicinity of 3 million in 2020 when the overall global demand for automobiles is projected to top the 100 million mark.
Asked when the electric variants of automobiles become the mainstream of the total business so that they account for a majority of new cars, the 54-year-old Bosch lifer also picked the year 2025.
During a stretched out period before a full-fledged advent of the so-called electro-mobility era, Bohr said that the world cannot afford the luxury of just sitting around: Internal combustion engines powered by gasoline or diesel should improve.
``Because even if we include hybrids, over 95 percent of new vehicles around the world in 2020 will still be powered by diesel or gasoline. It is precisely for this reason that it is so important for us to reduce their consumption by another 30 percent,’’ the executive said.
Toward that end, Bosch develops a wide range of technologies. On top of revving up the fuel efficiency of diesel or gasoline engine systems, the firm has worked on start-stop functionality, which turns off engines when the vehicle speed goes down below a pre-set level, say due to traffic signals.
Bohr expects that the format alone would cut down average fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, which would help carmakers comply with the stringent regulations such as those of the European Union.
Last year, the average passenger car in Europe had carbon dioxide emissions of 146 grams per kilometer. The EU will phase in new regulations so as to more than halve the figure to 70 grams by 2025.
Bosch is trying to seize long-term growth opportunities in electro-mobility without neglecting short-term profitability in internal combustion engines as the German firm comes up with an ambitious target for 2011.
The company, whose history stretches back 125 years, is striving to chalk up double-digit growth this year in order to reach into an uncharted business realm.
``Sales in our automotive technology business sector will pass the 30 billion euro threshold for the first time this year. We are expecting growth of over 10 percent,’’ Bohr said.
``Year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2011 in our automotive technology business was even more impressive at 15 percent.’’