India will play a bigger role for future SDVs says Bosch
German component major is giving more responsibility to India beyond software application to system and services development for Software Defined Vehicles.
Mathias Pillin, the Chief Technology Officer of Bosch Mobility and the Member of the Board of Management at the German auto component major says, "The digital life in India is more advanced than Europe" and the company is prepared to give more responsibility to India for its future software defined vehicle products.
"India is not just a research and development location, but also a location where we are prepared to shift more competence, responsibility and accountability, in particular, on the software side. On the software defined vehicle side but also on the application side," explained Pillin on the sidelines of the recently concluded IAA Mobility Show in Munich to Autocar Professional.
Bosch India has 27,000 engineers on its rolls spread across 10 locations and 7 application development centres. And with that kind of bench strength it is fast transforming the entity from a "software application work" base to a more “systems and service development” organisation.
Pillin says Bosch knows the Indian market very well and he had visited the country in August to take stock of the role the country is going to play in the future of its Mobility Division.
According to him, Bosch is basing much of its software development on the expertise of India. On the changing landscape in the country, he explained, “It’s amazing what one gets from universities in India. In the past, basically they did software application work, but now we are prepared in the course of what we call Software Defined Vehicle (SDV), to empower them and shift even more responsibility to India. So it's not just application work being outsourced to India, but it is increasingly transitioning into operating system and service layers.”
Automotive software market to triple by 2030
Bosch estimates that the automotive software market will grow to 200 billion Euros by 2030, which is almost three times the 2020 industry size and it is aligning its organisation to participate in this fast-evolving space. Earlier in May this year, Robert Bosch restructured the organisation and carved out a new Bosch Mobility business, which Pillin leads as its Chief Technology Officer or CTO.
This change in structure was announced with an eye on transforming Bosch as a “mobility software company.” Some of the business sector’s individual divisions will be redrawn effective January 1, 2024, and all divisions will be given horizontal, cross-divisional responsibilities as well. With its mobility solutions alone, Bosch’s aim for this new structure is that it will generate sales revenue of more than 80 billion Euros worldwide by 2029.
With the share of software development in the overall development cost touching 30 percent, at Bosch, almost half of the engineers are working on software, with a major share of development work coming from India.
The software-defined vehicles offer two advantages: first is the speed of development. Instead of taking years, implementing new functions in existing systems will be just a matter of days in the future. The second is the decoupling of software and hardware development, which means that cars will feel like new for longer, thanks to software updates.
From 2025, Bosch expects that software-defined vehicles will be introduced on a broad scale in the marketplace.
And software defined vehicles of the future will go hand-in-hand with a new, centralised electrical and electronic (E/E) architecture, wherein more than 100 electronic control units are installed in the latest premium-class vehicles. Even today’s compact-class vehicles feature between 30 and 50 multitasking electronic control units.
“Our focus will be on making the complexity of electronic systems controllable and as reliable as possible,” the chairman of Mobility Business Markus Heyn had said announcing the new structure at the Mobility business.
In the future, it will be possible to significantly reduce the number of control units by using powerful computers for the various vehicle domains, such as cockpit and connectivity functions, driver assistance systems and automated driving, and the powertrain. This is why Bosch is developing a uniform IT architecture for the entire vehicle — from the cloud, to the central vehicle computer, to the individual control units — a key part of that development work is happening out of India.
One major advantage is that Bosch is equally at home in the software and hardware domains. Whether it’s brakes, steering systems, or eco-friendly powertrains, Bosch pursues a technology-neutral approach with fuel cells, batteries, and hydrogen engines.
As a supplier of technology and services for automotive applications developed and manufactured under one roof, it includes more than 250 million control units each year, which are also configured with the company’s proprietary software. But that’s not all. Bosch specialises in a further field that is becoming increasingly important and the integration of software from diverse sources resulting from collaboration between the automotive and Information Technology specialists. Bosch also has this integrative expertise, and will extend it by reorganising its automotive supply chain business.
Localisation to serve cost conscious Indian EV buyers
Pillin reminds that the company has been in India for decades and it offers an entire gamut of electrical and electronics products instead of sending global products in the country, Bosch has consistently localised global products to suit the cost-conscious Indian buyers. As the market pivots to EVs, Bosch is ready.
Recounting on how Bosch was able to deliver over 1 million motors in China, Pillin said the group has the capability to bring in products at an affordable price and nice functionality and it is well prepared to cater to the Indian market too.
He said the Group will support the technology transition in the Indian market with the appropriate solution.
The transition to EVs is “a given,” believes Pillin, including countries like India that needs to get rid of dependence of expensive imports of fossil fuels, hence Bosch has already localised small motors here. As for the bigger electric motors, the discussion is still going on, as to whether the company will use a local solution or an adapted solution.
"We are having discussions with Indian OEMs and we are investigating what we can do in order to localise components, or even develop the specific e-motor and power electronics components in India, but there is no decision at this point in time," added Pillin.
In India, Bosch has declared that it will not manufacture cells, but will make everything else in terms of EV parts – batteries, individual components or the e-axle with a big focus on aggressive localisation programmes.
Leveraging from Bengaluru — India’s startup capital
Apart from leveraging a strong IT talent base, Bosch is leveraging a strong start up ecosystem in Bengaluru. Pillin says in this new world, the challenge is to “adapt and develop, or even partner with companies to make sure that we are fitting the right price to performance ratio for the benefit of customers.”
In the Artificial Intelligence space, Pillin said that there are a lot of collaborations going on in the digital services domain as well. He informed that Bosch Global Software is doing a lot of partnering activities with local startups, especially in AI domain.
Apart from leveraging the local start-up ecosystem and expanding office space, the company has also been able to retain a significant workforce, with very low rates of attrition.
Pillin says Bosch is growing all over the place. “For a decade we were present in Coimbatore. Now we are in Hyderabad too, we have opened an office in Pune for example, where we also have a couple of 100 associates. It is running really well and what always makes me confident is that we are doing the right thing in India and the attrition rate too is very low. Given the huge competition in the Indian job market, especially on the tech front, our attrition rate is very low, I think we are doing a very good job.”
This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's October 1, 2023 issue.
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