Dr Markus Heyn, Member of the Board of Management, Bosch Group, speaks to Sumantra B Barooah, on how diesel engines can be cleaner than petrols, why meeting BS VI norms in India is feasible, and water injection engine technology.
Dr Markus Heyn, Member of the Board of Management, Bosch Group, speaks to Sumantra B Barooah, on the sidelines of the Bosch India Technology Expo 2016 held in New Delhi earlier this month, on how diesel engines can be cleaner than petrol motors, why meeting BS VI in India is feasible albeit challenging, and new engine technology in the form of water injection.
You say that with Bosch technologies, the air emitted by diesel engines can be cleaner than the air that goes into the inlet manifold?
Yes, exactly and this is due to the fact that the technology comprises a certain number of filters and it’s proved by facts and figures. Depending on the external air pollution, the take-in (air) indeed can be dirtier than what’s going out of the engine.
I think it’s a good picture to work on because it contributes to our vision to really make combustion engines power cars as air cleaning machines. That is what they are supposed to be and we believe we can contribute technology-wise to that vision.
At the same time though there are cost implications to it. Given than emerging markets like India are also price-sensitive, are you working on solutions on that as well, something which can contain costs?
I think that is the challenge we are now having is to master together with the OEMs. It’s not about adopting technologies which are out there, because Indian conditions, the climate and driving cycles are specific and the technologies have to be very affordable. I find the Indian market very attractive because of the need for attractive solutions with affordability and we need to come up with India-specific solutions. Just copying what we know in Europe probably is not the right thing to do.
What we will bring to the table is our competencies, knowledge, experience and we are open to work with OEMs on any specific solutions. They have been there all the time; if you look at the market today, there are fully India-specific solutions which you will find nowhere else in the world.
The single-channel ABS in the two-wheeler industry is the low-cost version of the twin-channel ABS available in Europe. Can we expect emission technologies on a similar line?
You have to look at the powertrain as one full system – it is not enough to look at it from a single component point of view – to come up with a cost-efficient solution.
If you compare to the situation to Europe, it was always known that going from Euro 4 to 5 and to 6 will increase costs significantly, making diesel totally unattractive. If you see today what has happened, their share has stayed the same and vehicle prices didn’t go up. That is a similar challenge we need to take up in India, of course, on other price levels.
Talking about emission norms, the Indian government has announced that BS VI will have to be met by the year 2020.
It is technically cheap but the timeline is very short and it’s not just the automotive industry that has to contribute to master that challenge successfully. We have to have 10 ppm low sulphur fuel ready for doing at least doing two validations cycle. Ad blue must be available nationwide.
It would take an orchestrated approach from both from the automotive industry and suppliers, the authorities and the oil companies to make that challenge happen.
Two validations cycles would be how long in terms of a time-frame?
At least one-and-a-half years of timing, so that we can do both summer and winter testing over two periods. I would rather like to have the fuel by the beginning of 2018; the fuel is so important because we need to test the lubricity for the components and the engines. We do not like to rely on imported fuel and it should be Indian-made low sulphur fuel that we can test to find out what it does to the components and the engine.
What would be the overall cost implications of BS VI?
For me, today, there is no single answer. We need to first have a dialogue with the OEMs, and then work on a multitude of solutions which are specific to vehicle segments and specific models. We will see all kinds of BS VI-capable solutions and only then can we give a more precise answer on what is the cost delta and what is the performance benefits we can have.
According to industry experts, it could also virtually sound the death knell for smaller displacement diesel engines because of cost implications and other factors. Do you agree with that?
It would simple to just agree to that; it is like denying taking up the engineering challenge. Of course, if you leave the powertrain as it is today and just add new technologies, it becomes that much more expensive. If you try to capture the system as a whole then, for me, this is a given impact. We will see what the creativity brings and I am confident that in India the creativity levels are very high.
Autonomous driving is one of the main mega trends in the global auto industry. How do you rate India as a market or as a base for developing solutions for applications elsewhere?
I would say automated driving is a revolution which will come by step by step. It is not that we can expect to drive hands-free though the middle of Delhi city tomorrow. That is totally unrealistic.
What we suggest is that focus on areas of specific use cases which can bring concrete benefits. An example is that commercial vehicles today undertake long haul drives; imagine if the truck driver can be assisted by an automated function which keeps him on the specific lane as opposed to leaving that lane, especially when he is getting more tired? Or if you are driving around a city and you want to park your car? These are the sort of user cases we think automated driving as a first step can deliver a benefit. This is not totally out of reach; fully autonomous driving though may happen around the year 2025.
Recently you have added Japan as one of the new test markets for autonomous driving. Could India be next after Japan?
Well, India could be next. We have already started a dialogue with the government here and one of the important pre-conditions is that we can make use of our components which are needed for making automated driving happening. These are, of course, ultrasonic sensors, and long- and middle-range radars for which we need (the government) to release the specific frequencies for that to happen. But I think the dialogue is going positive and I am confident that we can also expect testing and trials in India.
What is the update on water injection technology?
I am not supposed to any give specific details but I can tell you that we have continued our development efforts on that technology and it is very likely that you see something by next year when a vehicle, which you can buy, has this technology built in.
(Water injection is a method of improving a combustion engine’s anti-knock behaviour using the charge-cooling effects of water – typically mixed with methanol – injected into the inlet ports and then introduced into the combustion chamber.)
What would be advantages of this technology to a vehicle compared to one without it, everything else remaining the same?
There are several advantages. First of all, water injection positively influences the combustion process. Secondly, water injection also contributes to lower emission, and thirdly by reducing the entire temperature level, it is more likely from a performance standpoint that you can extend the capability of the engine. So, obviously it is something very attractive and, as mentioned before, we are already working on a project and one vehicle will be in the market soon.
Will it be at the premium end?
Yes, your assumption is true.
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