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Friday, February 12, 2010

Bosch Say Electrified Powertrains will Dominate Automotive Future

Robert Bosch's business development manager for powertrain electrification, Joe Slenzak, told an audience at the Society of Automotive Engineers Hybrid Vehicle Technologies Symposium this week that while internal combustion engine will be around for a long time, it will slowly be pushed into a minority role by electric-drive systems.

The auto industry is on a steep and complex electrification learning curve - a situation relevant to consumers because the change will affect vehicle costs.

Unlike the mature technologies of conventional gas and diesel powertrains, the myriad hybrids, pure electrics and fuel cell vehicles use new technology that is quickly evolving, making it tough for suppliers to anticipate and to amortize their solutions through long-term supply contracts for parts that don't have to be continually changed, he said.

Each automaker has particular needs that often mean unique "build-to-print" components, where off-the-shelf parts might have served well before, Sleznak said.

Numerous current and emerging electric powertrain technologies further complicate the picture, and will mean high component costs until the parts and technologies can be more widely used and production costs minimized.

"It's not just hardware," Slenzak noted. On-board computers control electric-drive and safety systems and software plays a major role, complicated by the sheer number of different powertrain architectures and individual applications within each architecture.

Obviously, the cars won't be cheap in the near term.

That bodes well for the internal combustion engine, at least for now - Slenzak sees gas and diesel engines as major players for another 20 years.

He doesn't envision "quantum leaps" with internal combustion technology, but says evolutionary changes should keep it in the game while electric technologies mature.

The numerous new architectures will evolve, he predicts, bringing down weight, complexity and cost. As they do, the field will likely narrow to a few variations on an electric theme - most likely battery and fuel-cell varieties.

There's more than a little irony here.

During the infancy of the automobile in the early 20th century, more than 100 electric car companies existed, says Slenzak. By the 1920s they were all but gone as roads improved and consumers wanted to drive longer distances than the electric cars' batteries would allow. For the rest of the century - and so far for the 21`st as well, internal combustion engines dominated.

In today's world - where environmental and energy security issues are becoming increasing critical, it may not be long before the auto industry comes full circle, even though the primary challenge for battery electrics - driving range - remains.

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Sergius said...

Exactly, Mr. Joe Slenzak.
Internal combustion engines existed, while electric and electronics was in development.
Now, is its time and we can say that those fossil fuel devices are almost anachronistic.
Sérgio Werneck de Figueiredo
RJ Brazil

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Mr. Joe Slenzak.
Internal combustion engines, existed, while electric and electronic technology were developing itself.
Now is the electric moment and we may say that those fossil fuel devices will stay anachronistic in ten years.
Sérgio Werneck de Figueiredo
RJ Brazil

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