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Bosch readies for new dynamics on Indian bike terrain

Murali Gopalan | Updated on March 21, 2019

Geoff Liersch, Head of Two-Wheeler & Powersports Business Unit

Two-Wheeler Unit chief says moving to BS VI is a bold move

Geoff Liersch believes the Indian government is doing a good job to progressively bring down emissions. “They are looking at it in all perspectives and all technologies,” says Bosch’s Head of Two-Wheeler & Powersports Business Unit.

Liersch works out of Tokyo but keeps a careful watch on the Indian two-wheeler landscape, which is now preparing itself for a new set of challenges. Beyond the safety norms in the form of ABS and CBS that become mandatory for all bikes in less than 10 days from now, the following year will see Bharat Stage VI emission norms coming in across the country.

Naturally, the topic veers around to emissions and cleaner options like electric. “I don’t know honestly whether the internal combustion engine or electric will be the best suited in the future,” admits Liersch. Yet, he is of the view that there could be periods of time when one technology is better suited than others. By the end of the day, continues Liersch, BS VI is a “major step” in the right direction. “However, I don’t believe we are at the end of where the world needs to go in general. This is a bold move by the Government to move to BS VI and I think it will work,” he says.

It is also his “personal view” that legislation should always be agnostic to technology. “You should say this is what I want from emissions. To me, it needs to be also from well-to-wheel and not just halfway through the technology,” reiterates Liersch.

Eventually, technology should play its role in bringing down emissions. “Whether it is BS VI, VII, electrification or whatever, it should be the best technology that exists at that point in time and might change over time,” he says.

By the end of the day, even as legislation keeps coming in, it is important for solution providers to offer something that is also the most cost-effective. According to the Bosch head, there could be a situation where two alternative technologies are operating in tandem.

This is extremely likely in regions like India where there are four different versions of commuters depending on the end-user. In this scenario, electric may be the most cost-effective solution “for that particular distance” or, alternatively, petrol is the better alternative.

Liersch cautions from the experience of other countries that it not wise to change the market too quickly and instead go about working out things slowly towards a target. According to him, the Indian two-wheeler market is interesting because rider behaviour here is “completely different from anywhere else in the world”.

Not only is the country the largest producer of bikes, scooters and mopeds at over 21 million units annually but there are also so many categories of users that the picture is mind-boggling. “Our challenge in technology is to reduce costs and give as much performance as we can,” says Liersch.

Bosch, he adds, is constantly surveying “a whole lot of new areas in mobility” to figure out the path forward and what the future looks like. As Liersch says, with the rapid pace of urbanisation, there may be no room left on the road. “If you converted Delhi from motorcycles to cars, there will be nowhere to park them,” exclaims Liersch. This is true for many cities across the world facing the challenges of urbanisation. In this scenario, it is his “personal view” that motorcycles will become more popular in such regions.

Published on March 21, 2019

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