El ministro de Industria, Turismo y Comercio, Miguel Sebastián, ha reiterado en diferentes ocasiones el objetivo de que en 2014 circulen por las carreteras españolas un millón de coches eléctricos e híbridos, la mayor parte de fabricación nacional.
Bohr indicó que el coche eléctrico llegará al principio en número reducido a las calles, ocupando pequeños nichos de mercado. "Sólo a partir de 2020 se hará mucho más visible en las carreteras", añadió el directivo de la multinacional alemana.
Bosch basa sus previsiones, entre otros aspectos, en el crecimiento de las grandes megalópolis. "Hasta 2015 habrá en todo el mundo 60 mega-ciudades con una población de más de cinco millones de habitantes", expuso, para recordar que el coche eléctrico es el más adecuado en este tipo de urbes.
Para el responsable de la compañía con sede en Stuttgart, la única forma de conseguir que aumente el número de coches eléctricos en circulación es optimizar su rendimiento, básicamente a través de una mayor "densidad energética" de la batería.
Así, recordó que actualmente para garantizar una autonomía de 200 kilómetros con una sola recarga, se requiere una batería de iones de litio con un peso superior a 250 kilogramos y un coste de 17.000 euros, "demasiado pesada y demasiado cara". "Una tarea primordial de los ingenieros es la reducción del peso y del precio de las baterías", añadió.
Bohr se mostró partidario de convertir las grandes inversiones en desarrollo en grandes cifras de producción. En este sentido, puso como ejemplo que al comparar dos fabricantes con una producción anual de 500.000 y 50.000 unidades, respectivamente, el de mayor tamaño ahorra 500 euros en costes respecto al más pequeño.
"Para poder explotar rápidamente el mercado de coches eléctricos se requiere una reducción de los costes de entre el 33% y el 50%", según Bohr, quien instó a fabricantes europeos y estadounidenses a que no dividan innecesariamente sus capacidades.
Bosch – Making the vision of the electric car reality
Electromobility will usher in completely new approaches – with new business models, cars that are free of direct emissions, and significantly improved fuel efficiency. "At Bosch, we are investing heavily in making these visions a reality," said Dr. Bernd Bohr, chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group, yesterday, 16 June 2009, at a press conference.
This means that Bosch is contributing its technology in many ways and is working hard to get the electric drive of the future ready for large-scale series production. That is the one thing. The other is that Bosch engineers will do their utmost to further improve the internal-combustion engine for decades to come.
"We will do the one thing without neglecting the other," said Bohr. "Our engineers are working to reduce the fuel consumption of gasoline and diesel engines by up to one third. This will make it possible to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of diesel cars to under 99 grams per kilometre."
Moreover, Bosch is making driving even safer: "Preventing accidents is just as much a part of our strategic thrust as protecting the environment. To this end, we are developing customized solutions. They are tailored to each individual customer, and to the different markets around the world," Bohr said.
Bohr’s statement highlights the company’s long-term orientation – which looks beyond the current 15 to 20 percent decline in global automobile production. The downturn has affected Bosch, just as it has others. In 2008, the Automotive Technology business sector recorded substantial losses, with sales falling by 6.9 percent to around 26.5 billion euros.
For 2009, Bohr expects sales to decrease by a further 15 percent. "The electric car will come, but in small numbers at first. It will occupy a niche and will not make a noticeable mark on the roads until after 2020," said Bohr. Increasing urbanization is one of the reasons why electrification makes sense.
By 2015, more than 60 cities worldwide will have populations of over five million. The electric car is perfectly suited to driving in these megacities. It is most likely to be successful in Asia’s densely populated regions, and in some European and American cities. "By 2015, we expect to see a sales volume of some 500,000 electric vehicles worldwide. To achieve higher volumes, we must first improve the performance of these vehicles considerably," Bohr said.
Above all, this means greater energy density for the battery, which acts as the electric vehicle’s "tank." To cover a minimum distance of 200 kilometres, an electric vehicle would currently require a lithium-ion battery weighing some 250 kilograms. At a cost of around 17,000 euros, this battery would not only be too heavy, but also too expensive. For 2015, the estimated cost ranges between 8,000 and 12,000 euros – still too expensive for the mass market.
Developers must thus work to reduce the battery’s weight and price. To make the battery affordable for the average consumer, major suppliers will spread the considerable investments made in development and manufacturing over the largest possible volumes. "If we compare two manufacturers with annual respective volumes of 50,000 and 500,000 batteries, the smaller manufacturer has to bear some 500 euros more in development cost per unit," Bohr explained.
Moreover, the economies of scale that can be achieved by large-scale series producers of complex products can significantly reduce relative manufacturing costs as compared to small-scale series producers. To bring the electric car to market quickly, costs must be reduced by a half to two thirds. And this is why Bohr calls on manufacturers in Europe and the U.S. to avoid fragmenting their resources. Rather, they should take a coordinated approach – much like Japan or China have already done.
Bosch thus believes it makes sense for automakers and systems suppliers to work as partners in bringing new technologies about, also for the electric car. To this end, manufacturers are aligning the entire vehicle design with the new drive system. At the same time, suppliers are developing new technologies like the lithium-ion battery for the car, and will provide large volumes of these innovations to automakers at a reasonable cost.
Bosch hybrid technology is set to go into series production at the start of 2010. Bosch is working on powertrain electrification in an independent business unit that employs 400 engineers. By the end of this year, that number is set to rise to over 500. The SB LiMotive joint venture with Samsung SDI has also contributed to increasing the company’s innovative strength.
The cooperation aims to develop the heart of the electric drive of the future: the lithium-ion battery. The new battery technology is set to be ready for series production in 2011.