Bosch’s new 48-volt battery for hybrids is in demand by automakers across the globe. Similar to the Bosch e-axle, this innovative 48-volt battery is standardized for easy integration into new vehicle models. Established manufacturers and start-ups alike can thus eliminate long and expensive development processes. “Bosch is an incubator of electromobility. We help manufacturers reduce their development times and launch their products faster,” says Dr. Rolf Bulander, chairman of the Bosch Mobility Solutions business sector and member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. This means that installation of the lithium-ion battery will benefit not only compact cars, but mini- and microcars as well. Production of the battery is scheduled to start in late 2018. Anticipating a large market for entry-level hybrids, Bosch offers other powertrain components for these models in addition to the 48-volt battery. The company estimates that some 15 million 48-volt hybrid vehicles will be on the road by 2025.
The art of battery: standardized and easy to use
Automakers everywhere – whether in China, Europe, or North America – are all striving to cut CO2 emissions, which in practice means reducing cars’ fuel consumption. Bosch has systematically designed its new 48-volt battery to do precisely that. For instance, the lithium-ion cells Bosch uses are as compact as possible while still achieving a reduction in CO2. The 48-volt battery is in high demand, particularly among Chinese manufacturers, and the lithium-ion unit is poised to become a global success. Bosch is already in talks with over a dozen customers and has secured a considerable number of production projects.
The secret of the battery’s success is its sophisticated concept, which offers a comparatively inexpensive way to help reduce vehicle CO2 emissions. This is also due to the product design, as the battery requires no active cooling and its housing is made of plastic, not metal. Both these factors bring costs down still further. The plastic housing presents a real challenge, as lithium-ion cells expand when the battery is charging and over the course of the unit’s service life. As a result, the housing must withstand a certain amount of stress. Bosch engineers rearranged the cells in the 48-volt battery so that even plastic housing can bear the pressure.
“We at Bosch have long been making upfront investments in electromobility. Now those investments are gradually starting to pay off,” says Dr. Mathias Pillin, head of electromobility at Bosch. On the world’s roads, there are already well over 500,000 electric and hybrid cars fitted with Bosch components. The company invests 400 million euros a year in electromobility. Bosch has years of experience from more than 30 production projects, including in the manufacture of batteries, and that expertise is now bearing fruit. As Michael Budde, head of Bosch Battery Systems, puts it: “We are demonstrating that there is more to a battery than making it perform faster, stronger, farther; instead, there is an art to finding a suitable user-friendly solution.”
With its new battery, Bosch is playing a key role in making the 48-volt hybrid affordable for the mass market. This would make it possible for the powertrain to quickly become a hybrid for everybody – and not only in China: as the mass market for hybrids expands, Bosch expects its battery to find success in Japan and Europe as well. “We are confident that this will position us as a market leader for 48-volt batteries,” Budde says.