German technology major and components provider Bosch has been at the forefront of technological innovations for the automotive segment. In an interaction with Autocar Professional, Soumitra Bhattacharya, managing director, Bosch Ltd and president, Bosch Group India, speaks about the company’s India plans, BS VI emission norms, vehicle electrification and its new innovation hub.
Recently you inaugurated Bosch’s new electro-mobility innovation hub in India. What is the scope you see, going forward?
I think what we aim to showcase through the Bosch Technology Exposition 2018 is our ability to provide a holistic solution in light-electro-mobility (two- and three-wheeler), as well as now through the Bosch-powered electric vehicle (which is a pure EV). We are showcasing our end-to-end solutions for passenger cars in pure EV.
Are you looking at the commercial vehicle segment?Commercial vehicle electrification is right now not being talked off. Fleet is the only area where we are giving some thoughts in relation to buses; in that the main thing will be about intra-city buses and not inter-city buses.
It is not going to be away from our focus but it will be a play on a few areas such as battery, charging and it could be within some defined cities including for instance the NCR region. The main thing that is going to be there is on the electric scooter where we are pre-eminently present, then the e-rickshaw (three-wheeler) , and finally the aspect of passenger cars which we have showcased as a demo car.
In the conventional vehicle industry, Bosch has established itself strongly in diesel technology. How do you see that panning out, especially now with BS VI norms around the corner as diesel won’t be seen as a dirty fuel anymore?
I think first of all on the BS VI front, as you rightly said, it is very important to be able to understand the facts from the myths. If you take a simple example of BS VI diesel, NOx and particulate matter will dramatically reduce.
With BS VI, you have a situation where India will leapfrog from a delta gap of 12 to 15 years with advanced countries to a delta gap of only five years. This is a huge technological jump in a very short period, advanced countries like Europe and Germany have gone from Euro 4 to Euro 5 to Euro 6 in eight years; India is doing it in three years. And Bosch gives a complete holistic solution to the customers for meeting these challenging deadlines.
Do you think perhaps the overall outlook of the market towards diesel could change once BS VI kicks in and perhaps the swing which we saw 6-8 years from petrol to diesel after the price revision will reverse again? Is the swing that we are witnessing with BS VI kind of a new life for diesel engine technology?
I can’t predict the future but I can tell you only one thing -- technology plays a very important role but perception and sentiments play an important role too.
It is a mixture of everything; technology-wise we are clearly saying, but I think everyone and nobody denies it that BS VI technology will bring about a massive change in the two- and four-wheeler segment, including in petrol and diesel. Those are the facts and India is leapfrogging from BS IV to BS VI which is also a fact.
Based on the ruling of March 29, 2017 which said that only BS IV vehicles will be sold in the country from April 1, 2017, everyone knows the same will happen for BS VI from April 1, 2020. So now it will be about combination of public sentiment and facts.
Lastly, if I summarise, ICE will remain and we see it as a very dominant player. Electrification will grow, plug-in hybrid vehicles will also have a chance and all of us have to be prepared for existing as well as new technologies.
This new innovation hub for electro-mobility is the first step for Bosch. How much investment have you earmarked, you have mentioned Bosch Ltd will be the front-face but will also work with your other entities.
Yes, the back-end will work seamlessly with all our legal entities including our parent company. The bottomline of our announcement for the project-house for electrification shows a very clear intent and commitment by Bosch Ltd, and also Bosch India, on how serious we are on electrification. Having said that, our parent company has been working for the last 10 years, so our product portfolio is wide as well as deep.