Bosch, the global technology and services company, says it has a plan to put electric mobility on Indian roads, starting with two- and three-wheelers.
In the late 1990s, China saw a rapid shift from gasoline-powered scooters and human-powered bicycles to all-electric two-wheelers. The market has since exploded – from a mere 58,000 units in 1998 to an unbelievable 30 million units per year now. The primary reason is policy support – in 1991, the Chinese government had made developing e-bikes an official technology goal.
While India is unlikely to experience similar levels of growth, the potential is huge. Today, over 40 Indian cities are home to more than a million residents, and mobility requirements are at its greatest in such urban sprawls. Bosch, the global technology and services company, foresees electrification as a future growth area in India, and says it has a plan to put electric mobility on Indian roads, starting with two- and three-wheelers.
“Small-vehicle segments will drive the transition to mass electrification, as urban dwellers seek a simple and affordable alternative to conventional modes of travelling,” said Peter Tyroller, Member of the Board of Management of the Bosch Group responsible for Asia-Pacific, while talking to reporters in Bengaluru on Friday. “An electric scooter will be relevant to a person looking to run some household errands in and around his society.”
According to industry body SMEV (Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles), of the half a million electric vehicles on Indian roads, more than 95% are low-speed electric scooters, which travel at less than 25kph and do not require registration and driving licence to operate. To keep prices low, a majority of these run on lead batteries, and therefore battery failures and low life of batteries have become major challenges. That’s where Bosch steps in. “As a company leading the technology curve in the mobility space, we are ready to offer our portfolio of electrified solutions for the local market,” said Tyroller.
Earlier this year, EV major Hero Electric had entered into a powertrain partnership with Bosch to offer better technology and higher speed in its product line-up.
Bosch said it has a lot more to offer. The company, which cited a study noting that 1.2 million electric two-wheelers are set to hit the Indian market by 2020, said it can offer its local customers the complete value-chain with respect to electric mobility. “Our company has developed an integrated electrification system, including motor, control unit, battery, charger, display, and app that can power light two-, three- and four-wheel electric vehicles. These electrification systems can easily be integrated with any light vehicle. This helps manufacturers with their go-to-market strategy,” said Jan Oliver Roehrl, CTO, Mobility Solutions, Powertrain, Bosch. “The solution has been made scalable across all performance classes between 0.25-20kW, and the team at Bosch India has been working on this since 2016, in areas such as prototype development and system integration.”
Tyroller added: “There are a lot of vehicles in the Indian automotive market right now that have the scope to be electrified. This makes India a great incubator for an electric future.”
‘Automated’, ‘connected’, and ‘electrified’ are the three trends that Bosch sees for future mobility. When it comes especially to urban mobility, “we have a clear vision: zero local emissions, zero stress, zero accidents,” noted Tyroller. “With technological solutions, we can help improve the quality of life in megacities and conurbations.”
However, Tyroller added that despite the focus on electric mobility as a long-term alternative, the internal combustion engine will continue to play a major role for quite some time. “The powertrain of the future will be a mix of electromobility and combustion engines,” he said. “A two-wheeler, for example, could be completely electrified; a car intended for long-distance travel could be hybrid; and a long haulage truck for now will be diesel-driven.”
And although he appreciated India’s vision of making sure that, by 2030, most, if not all, vehicles are powered by electricity, he noted that it is still a “vision, not a law.”
Lastly, Bosch emphasised that electric mobility in the four-wheeler segment will likely gain ground in the years to come via fleet operators. In May this year, Nagpur had become India’s first city with a fleet of 200 electric vehicles, including taxis, buses, e-rickshaws and autos, with taxi aggregator Ola investing upwards of Rs 50 crore towards EVs and charging infrastructure. Bosch, however, said it has no intention of entering into partnerships with fleet operators as it is not its core business area.