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‘Coming up with smart solutions is the key’

MURALI GOPALAN | Updated on January 20, 2018

Markus Heyn, board member at Robert Bosch GmbH (left), and SteffenBerns, President, Bosch Group India and MD, Bosch Limited

Markus Heyn of Robert Bosch is confident the BS VI emissions challenge can be met



German automotive ancillary supplier, Bosch, will have its hands full in India till 2020 when the Bharat Stage VI emission norms kick in. It is not going to be an easy task with a host of imponderables ranging from costs to availability of fuel.

Yet, Markus Heyn, Member of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch is not unduly alarmed by the daunting task ahead. While conceding that it has not been done in any other country worldwide, he says Bosch is relatively well positioned to meet this challenge.

What is unique about the India roadmap is that it is ambitious from the viewpoint of a timeframe (directly from BS IV to VI) considering that even Europe and North America went through a longer cycle from Euro 5 to 6. According to Heyn, the benefit for India is to “put up all the learnings which are out there” and combine it with Indian creativity to come up with smart solutions.

“I do not believe that copying something works and eventually it boils down to selling attractive, yet affordable, vehicles. Coming up with smart solutions is the key thing and it is better than copying,” he adds.

India-specific solutions

The best way forward is, therefore, to take the experience and understanding of what has been achieved already in terms of improving and optimising combustion engines. “Transforming this into really attractive solutions is really the challenge for Bosch in the next four years,” reiterates Heyn.

According to him, there is a good reason why some out-of-the-box thinking is required for India unlike other parts of the world. In the first place, the country is characterised by a whole lot of vehicles which are not found anywhere else in the world. This is largely due to a mix of chaotic traffic, affordability and poor public transport.

“That is why I say just copying will not work. You also have the specific Indian driving cycles which are unique as also the climatic conditions here,” says Heyn. Hence, the top priority is to incorporate the experience and knowledge already out there and translate it into “really good” solutions.

This is where the competence of technology and engineers will offer the best solutions to take things forward. “I think it is the best way to look at challenges and for us this boils down to engineering creativity which is in our genes,” says Heyn.

Steffen Berns, MD of Bosch and President of Bosch Group India, says “solid planning” is the need of the hour and any “fast change” is difficult during this transition. “In the current scenario, it is really important we fix the boundary conditions so that we know what is BS VI (which is not clear), and also know when the fuel is available,” he cautions.

The fuel then must be tested in different vehicles that need to be developed. If it is not available, the engines are naturally not going to be clean and the entire exercise becomes ineffective.

“We need the fuel from Indian refineries two years earlier because in the development cycle, you look into which technology to develop and then build prototypes,” says Berns. This involves two test cycles - the first to be successful and the other for revalidation - which roughly take one year each.

Fuel availability is also critical from the viewpoint of lubrication as there are lots of moving parts in the engine. If lubrication does not work, the engines may fail over time and this is something that Bosch would rather avoid. According to Berns, if the “boundary conditions” are clearly defined, four years would be needed to develop new engines.

Heyn is confident that Bosch can pull it off even though this is going to be “extensive period of work” with its vehicle customers. Beyond emissions, he is upbeat about the road ahead especially in the arena of mobility solutions where rapid urbanisation is changing dynamics across the world.

Beyond cars

Bosch is also focusing on commercial vehicles and two-wheelers, while providing powertrain and human machine interface solutions for e-bikes where it is already the market leader in Europe.

Heyn says the company is now looking at light mobility solutions which could lie between a bike and car. “Over time, we see good potential in these kinds of solutions and are working with many OEMs. There are some challenges and we are focusing on further innovations in mobility,” he adds.

From Bosch’s point of view, there is a whole world of new opportunities which are evolving faster than ever before. As Heyn says, people today sit in front of computers and keys in what they need unlike yesteryear when they would get out and shop. “We see a really dramatic change which is more about individuality and which will also do something in mobility,” he adds.

Published on March 10, 2016

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