Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Robert Bosch LLC expects to see about 3 million hybrids sold worldwide in 2015, plus 300,000-500,000 electric cars.

They will be just a drop in the bucket among the 90 million vehicles produced, but they represent the beginning of a phase when energy – electric energy – is abundant.

“In times of energy scarcity,” says Peter Marks, chairman, president and CEO of Bosch in North America, “driving a traditionally powered car becomes a privilege. If we continue down (the current) path, it will become a luxury.

“(But) in a world of energy abundance, we see increasing numbers of cars.”

It will take a long time to reach a time of abundance, Marks admits, but collecting energy from wind, rivers and the sun will happen because “fossil fuels are finite, and the only question is when they will be depleted. The global growth in demand for oil is outpacing its availability, which will ultimately result in energy scarcity.”

The industry already has begun the period of transition from fossil fuels. Bosch’s role in the transition, he says, is to improve technology such as gasoline direct injection, diesels and turbocharging to “help us use fossil fuel to its best advantage.”

Bosch spends 8% of its turnover on research and development, 40% of that on projects that can be called environmental.

But the supplier also is looking to future energy abundance and is developing lithium-ion batteries in a joint venture with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

“It will be quite long term” before a majority of car propulsion is electric, Marks says. “(But) we are preparing ourselves for the future.”

Bosch, which helped pioneer the common-rail direct-injection diesel technology that revolutionized the European light-vehicle market, remains bullish on diesel for North America, expecting growth to 15% of the U.S. market by 2015.

Marks, speaking at the Management Briefing Seminars here, volunteers to market diesels in cooperation with auto makers in North America. And he says oil companies have assured him new refineries in development will restore balance in the production of diesel and gasoline by 2010 or 2011, reversing the recent trend of diesel prices increasing faster than gasoline.