MUNICH, Germany In the run-up to the IAA automobile exhibition in Frankfurt, electronics supplier Robert Bosch GmbH has aired what it regards as major future trends. These are low price vehicles, multi-fuel concepts and better fuel economy.
The company expects the low price vehicle segment to grow disproportionately strong, driven by rising demand in emerging markets. Characterized as the market segment with end user prices below 7000 (about $9500), the world market for this segment will grow to 10.1 million units in 2010 from 8.2 million in 2006. A particularly high demand for this vehicle class is seen in India where the market share for low price vehicles will increase from 12 percent to 19 percent, Bosch predicts.
The trend towards cheap cars will affect the market for automotive electronics. While in the segment of comfort electronics and to some extend in body electronics, the choice is simply to leave it off, in motor control applications the rising demand on fuel economy and cleanliness require the OEMs to equip even the cheapest car with electronic controls.
In order to get to an adequate pricing level for the electronics, Bosch sees three strategies which it all has implemented somehow. The first option is to simplify existing standard products. The second is to adopt electronic products from even cheaper vehicles such as motorbikes. The third way is to develop specific components for these markets. An instance for this strategy is the company's new ignition coil which at a much smaller volume can supply two different ignition energy levels - a requirement for multi-fuel motors, Bosch said.
Multi-fuel abilities are another important trend. This means that a motor has to be able to burn different fuels - gasoline and ethanol, for instance, which is an important feature in South America. In Russia, in contrast, motors may be driven alternately with compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative to gasoline. The trend to multi-fuel motors affects the electronic ignition system which has to be designed for more flexibility in the future, Bosch said.
Another trend is fuel economy. Against the background of globally rising fuel prices as well as rising environmental requirements, saving on fuel can be directly translated into lower cost and lower emissions. For this purpose, Bosch has developed an electronic start/stop system, consisting of a specially designed starter engine, a battery sensor, energy management electronics and the appropriate control software. In the standard ECE15 measurement cycle which refers to city traffic patterns, the system can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 percent, Bosch claims.
Systems like this that aim at reducing fuel consumption are by no means something that is restricted to low-budget cars: BMW already plans to implement the system in its series 1 and its Mini series, beginning in autumn 2007.