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Bosch: Electrification is Coming, But Combustion Engines to Dominate for Another 20 Years

In the long run, the large variety of drivetrain concepts will give way to electric drive. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.

While full electric powertrains (battery and fuel cell) will at some point become pervasive in light-duty vehicles, the dominance of the internal-combustion engine will remain unchallenged over the next twenty years, according to Robert Bosch GmbH executives at their annual International Automotive Press Briefing in Boxberg, Germany. This is due in part to important technological challenges to powertrain electrification that must first be overcome and in part to ongoing efficiency improvements in combustion engine technology.

As a supplier, Bosch is active in both areas, said Dr. Bernd Bohr, chairman of the Bosch Automotive Group. Bosch is working hard to get the electric drive of the future readied for large-scale series production, while also doing its utmost to further improve the internal-combustion engine for decades to come, Bohr said. The company is investing €3 billion (US$ 4.25 billion) in R&D in the automotive technology sector in 2009.

We will do the one thing without neglecting the other. Our engineers are working to reduce the fuel consumption of gasoline and diesel engines by up to one third. This will make it possible to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of diesel cars to under 99 grams per kilometer.

...The electric car will come, but in small numbers at first. It will occupy a niche and will not make a noticeable mark on the roads until after 2020. By 2015, we expect to see a sales volume of some 500,000 electric vehicles worldwide. To achieve higher volumes, we must first improve the performance of these vehicles considerably.

—Dr. Bernd Bohr

Comparison of drive concepts for diesel engines, with reductions in fuel consumption. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.

Combustion engines. By 2015, said Dr. Rolf Leonhard, Executive Vice President Engineering, Diesel Systems, the market will see three-cylinder, 1.1- or 1.2-liter engines, both gasoline and diesel, that offer the same 100 kW (134 hp) power and performance of a standard 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine of today but with much greater fuel efficiency.

The new engines will also be equipped with several additional technologies to increase the overall efficiency of the drivetrain:

  • A start-stop system that automatically starts and stops the engine when the car is not in motion, for instance at a red light or in a traffic jam;
  • A thermal management system that quickly gets the engine up to optimum operating temperature, and keeps it there;
  • A highly efficient generator with a control unit that uses additional braking energy to charge the battery; and
  • Many other support functions which, thanks to electrification, work more efficiently and can be better controlled.
“Hybrid drives and electric cars are playing an increasingly important role...However, CO2 emissions and fuel consumption can be reduced much more quickly and cost-effectively by exploiting the development potential of gasoline and diesel engines.”
—Dr. Rolf Leonhard

By 2015, said Leonhard, a gasoline-driven car will consume only 5.5 liters per 100 kilometers (43 mpg US)—29% less than a standard engine in 2009. A diesel-powered car in 2015 will only burn 3.6 L/100km (65 mpg US)—a third less than diesel in 2009.

Hybridization can reduce the consumption of gasoline engines by 39%, and of diesel engines by as much as 40%, he said. In addition, automobile manufacturers are using other technologies to further decrease consumption and emissions. By designing more streamlined car bodies, they are reducing aerodynamic drag, and they are also reducing vehicle weight and rolling resistance.

All in all, an automobile which is fully optimized in these ways will consume 50 percent less fuel than today—fuel consumption under standard conditions of around 3.8 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers [62 mpg US], or 2.6 liters of diesel [90 mpg US], can be achieved. Of course, all this extra technology comes at a cost. But the money that drivers save on fuel means that it pays off in the long run.

—Rolf Leonhard

“The electric motor is the most efficient means of powering a car.”
—Wolf-Henning Scheider

Powertrain electrification.On the path toward powertrain electrification, Bosch’s current development activities focus on the hybrid engine, on purely electric driving, and on the range extender, said Wolf-Henning Scheider, President, Gasoline Systems.

In addition to its work on electric motors and drives, Scheider said, Bosch is focusing on the power electronics as a core competency.

Bosch’s first-generation power electronics systems has an installation volume of 13 to 14 liters for 50 kilowatts of electrical power. For the next generation, this will be reduced to five liters, and Bosch is already working on a subsequent three-liter version.

Bosch is also developing a new ESP®system that electronically coordinates the electric motor’s braking power with that of the friction brakes for better regenerative braking. Other activities include development of electric auxiliary systems, as well as charging systems for plug-ins.

What will the electric car look like in 2015? It will weigh around 1,000 kilograms. It will have a drag coefficient of 0.34, and its 40-kilowatt motor will be capable of speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour. In Germany today, the average distance covered each day by 90 percent of cars is under 80 kilometers. According to recent surveys, however, drivers want the electric car to have a minimum range of 200 kilometers. To make this possible, our electric car needs a battery with a capacity of 35-kilowatt hours.

Based on the technology we expect to be available in 2015, this battery will weigh 250 kilograms and cost around 12,000 euros, or 350 euros per kilowatt hour [US$495/kWh]. Depending on the design of the electric vehicle—how heavy it is, for example—and depending on how the lithium-ion battery develops, the cost of the battery may be slightly lower, at around 8,000 euros.

—Wolf-Henning Scheider

SB LiMotive is targeting improvements in power and energy. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.

Li-ion batteries. In 2008, Bosch and Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. established a joint venture to develop, manufacture, and sell lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. The joint venture—SB LiMotive Co. Ltd.—is based in Korea, and will start production in 2010. (Earlier post.)

In order to bring the lithium-ion battery up to speed for the automobile, we have set the following goals for our development activities at SB LiMotive has set four primary goals for its work in automotive Li-ion technology, said Dr. Joachim Fetzer, Executive Vice President, SB LiMotive:

  • To considerably improve the power and energy density of the lithium-ion battery
  • To significantly reduce battery costs
  • To further improve cycle durability and service life
  • To adapt the battery to the safety standards of the automotive industry

To achieve these goals, SB LiMotive is taking a three-pronged development approach:

  • In the chemical components of the individual battery cell and its structure
  • In the integration of the cells to form battery modules
  • In the battery management system which serves to monitor and regulate the individual cells

Li-ion cells for hybrid applications today deliver about 3,000 W/kg of specific power and some 85 Wh/kg of specific energy, Fetzer said. In contrast, those for electric cars deliver 110 Wh/kg. To improve both energy and power density, SB LiMotive is focused on optimizing the cell chemistry, with goals of a power density of more than 4,000 W/kg by 2012 for hybrid applications and an energy density greater than 150 Wh/kg for electric car applications—a 30-40% improvement in the key performance indicators of lithium-ion batteries within 3 years.

We would be able to reduce the number of cells [required in vehicle packs] in the future if we could considerably increase the specific power or specific energy of the materials in each cell. This would make the battery lighter and, most importantly, less expensive. Costs can also be reduced by producing on a larger scale. Plus, the battery will become more affordable with a larger procurement volume of raw materials and an increasing standardization of components. As our experience grows over the next few years, we will certainly find new ways to gradually optimize the process costs of battery cell manufacturing. This includes the cheaper production of chemical raw materials as well as the integration of cells in battery modules in large-scale series production. The general consensus is that we will be able to produce a battery pack for about 350 euros per kilowatt hour by 2015, or about two-thirds of the current cost.

—Dr. Joachim Fetzer



SB LiMotive Lion batteries 2012 performance goals (150 Wh/Kg and 4000 W/Kg) are very conservative but still resonable. Their 2015 price goal ($500 US/Kwh) is not aggressive enough.

Many other manufacturers, such as BYD China (etc), will reach half that price by 2015.


Very interesting and informative article from a reliable source. I hope Scheider is too pessimistic about the cost of battery packs but he may be right. 340 to 500 USD per kWh by 2015 is not going to make EVs mainstream in that year. However, for Sports cars and other high-end EVs in the 70,000 to 110,000 USD domain it will be just fine. For example, Tesla’s roadster is selling even though their battery currently cost (36000/53) 670 USD per kWh. The 18650 lithium cells that they use cost about 300 USD kWh (wholesale prices) but with a small series production of only about 100 battery packs per month they are predominantly hand assembled and the final battery pack therefore costs about 670 USD per kWh.

How expensive are these USD costs per kWh in terms of miles run?

The Prius does 100 miles on 2 gallons or 6 USD assuming 3 USD a gallon.
A Prius sized EV will need about 25 kWh to do 100 miles. That is 2.5 USD for electricity assuming 10 cents per kWh. However, the wear down of the battery needs to be factored in. Assuming we used LiFePO4 batteries that can cycle 2000 times (much better than the 350 cycles available in a Tesla battery) and assuming that these batteries cost 500 USD per kWh at the battery back level the cycle costs per kWh is 500 USD kWh / 2000 cycles = 0.25 USD. In other words it actually cost 0.25 USD*25 kWh = 6.25 USD to drive 100 miles because of battery wear down. On top add the cost of electricity or 2.5 USD and we get 8.75 USD to drive 100 miles in a Prius sized EV compared to the 6 USD for the gasoline Prius.

For EVs to become main stream we need 250 USD per kWh at the battery pack level. I have no doubt that this is possible in the future but how long it will take to get there is very uncertain. We certainly need mass production of EVs or a million vehicles per year globally. At that point 250 USD per kWh should be doable.


Henrik, the soft spot of your excellent price analysis may be how long the battery is projected to last.
Producers are being very conservative on life-time projections, and rightly so, but for a number of the technologies on offer we may see a cycle life of 4,000, 6,000 or 8,000 cycles instead of the 2,000 you use.
this would radically reduce costs.


Henrik's analysis was excellent, and shows the oft-neglected downside of electric power when the financial reality is correctly analyzed. Assuming that any of these battery packs will last beyond 2000 cycles is based on little more than hope, and will only be known when they've been in service for many years (much like the Prius battery pack record). To base cost calculations on 4,000, 6,000 or 8,000 hours of pack life when such pack life is not specified is unwarranted at best.
I had been working on the hypothetical design of an inner/intracity commuter aircraft, and decided to compare a diesel powered and an electrically powered version. With costs of fuel, electricity, diesel engine and battery pack replacement taken into account, the electric version costs of operation were 52% higher than the diesel version. I used an 1800 cycle battery pack service life, and an (optimistic) battery pack cost of $300/kW*h.
Until packs can be produced in the $100-200/kW*h range, electric vehicles won't be cost-competitive with conventional powerplants.


I agree the battery life analysis is good. Total cost of operation needs to be considered and if the life is only 2000 cycles that may be 5-6 years for replacement on a PHEV. The deeper the cycle the shorter the life and that needs to be accounted for.

Most people might like the clean air and no oil aspects of PHEVs. There is an upside, even if the total cost of operation is about the same. People may be willing to plug in each night because they do not have to go to the fueling station. There are many positive aspects favoring the decision in addition to economics.


"Assuming that any of these battery packs will last beyond 2000 cycles is based on little more than hope"

Actually no. RAV4EV batteries have track record out there, with 100K miles on some of them.
Yes, its NiMH.

New LiFEPO4s have been in power tools for a while, and getting good workout there. Power tools obviously have less sophisticated battery management systems than EVs ( load, charge and discharge balancing, thermal management ) so the cycle and shelf life data gotten from these just sets the low bar.


This price analysis is very enlightning.
It shows that if you want people to switch to electricity, you'll need a price incentive, such as a carbon tax.
That also means we need to produce low-carbon or carbon-free electricity, else that will be taxed too, or if it isn't, the planet won't see the difference, only our wallets will.


Calendar life may still be an issue for most types of lithium batteries but not for all types. A123 webpage claims 10+ years of calendar life for their LiFePO4 batteries. They have a very informative webpage on the topic at http://www.a123systems.com/technology/life

Of cause you can always be a bit skeptical about claims of long calendar life when the batteries in mind have only been around for a few years. A123 has made their batteries since 2005. However, I think we can trust their claims. 1) LiFePO4 cells are more stable at higher temperatures than all other lithium chemistries. 2) These cells also have lower voltage. It is 3.2V versus 3.7V in lithium cobalt cells and lower voltage is known to prolong calendar life. 3) A123 use laser beams to seal their cells so that they are much less likely to degrade as a result of humidity entering the cells. Furthermore, all battery cells that are used for automotive applications are protected by a thermal management system as well as a battery management system that will ensure a much longer life than is possible in more simple battery packs such as those in a notebook. A good example is Toyota’s Prius NiMH batteries that are still working after 10 years. Those of us who use rechargeable NiMH batteries for our home appliances knows they last maximum 3 years and the reason is mainly the lack of sophisticated thermal or battery management systems for our home appliances.
Apart from the cost of the battery pack in an EV another very important cost to consider is the cost of the electric motor. Electric motors and their power electronics cost importantly less to produce than similar sized gasoline and diesel engines. A good example is Tesla’s roadster that actually is less costly than gasoline sports cars with the same performance (3.9 sec to 62 mph) despite of its 36000 USD battery. The only important explanation for this is that the roadster’s electric motor is at least 36000 USD less expensive than a comparable gasoline engine. Gasoline roadsters need engines with a much higher power to weight ratio than gasoline engines for normal vehicles. Such engines are not in mass production so they cost a fortune to develop and produce. Electric motors use only a fraction of the components required for combustion engines so they will always cost less to develop and produce. Electric motors also do not require any important maintenance costs and can potentially last orders of magnitudes longer than gasoline engines that are build to work for only about 4000 hours.

My point is that EVs can save several thousand USD on engine costs compared to combustion engines and in some special situations such as high performance sports cars this is currently more than enough to compensate for the extra cost of the batteries. In general the more powerful the car the more money can be saved by using electric motors rather than combustion engines. This is why Tesla’s business plan is approaching genius and why Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV is likely to flop in my opinion.



Tks for the good words.

Battery packs will definately have much better performance (up to 400 to 500 Wh/Kg), last much longer (up to 5000 cycles) and be much cheaper (in the $200/Kwh - $250/Kwh range) in 10 to 12 years or whenever mass produced in the many millions.

Massive introduction of PHEVs and BEVs is just a matter of time, aggressive promotion by States with bonus-malus programs, lower high performance batteries price and sustained higher fuel price ($6 to $8/gal) would help. All three conditions may happen much sooner than we think. It may very be shorthly after 2015 instead of 2020+.

Many manufacturers will be on board by 2012, others will follow shorthly thereafter.

Meanwhile, better/cleaner ICEs and HEVs will be offered. An interesting decade ahead.


A car is not a cordless drill. While it may be fun to try and extrapolate life times for lithium ion batteries, it is not the same thing. I have seen no trials where they put 10 kwh of lithium batteries in a PHEV or EV taxi cab and run them 24/7 in all kinds of weather for a year.

NiMH in RAV4 EVs however have run for 10 years and 100,000 miles with plenty of charge life left in them. This is an EV with as deep cycle charge levels as you can get. I would like to see the same done with all lithium types proposed and then I may start to believe. A web site posting just does not do it for me.


The price of gasoline will decide the fate of EV's. If gas goes to $5/gal, people will swarm to EVs. If gas stays below $3/gal, EV's will languish.
I reiterate Henrik's point that the battery pack is not the only issue with EV's. People (and manufacturers) will also be drawn to their simplicity, reliability and longevity. An EV could last twice as long as an ICEv.
Also, we have barely begun to fully capture the energy from braking and redirect to the battery.


In 2014 Chevron's NiMH patent will expire and I believe they go for $400 / kW-hr, so for a 40 kW-hr pack it would cost $16,000. Then add on $10,000 for the rest of the car and for $26,000 you could have a great electric car. Once this happens most rational consumers will buy electric cars. The transition will be swift, much faster than they predict in this study.


With a little luck, investigation and justice, NiMH may be back on the market way before 2014. Stay tuned as the story unfolds. If the dots get connected as they should be, there could be a Justice Department investigation into patent abuse and restraint of trade. People need choices, monopolies and patent abuse restrict those choices...that goes against fair play and the American way.



It is very doubtful that the USA Justice Dept or Administration or Legistration Branch would change the rules on established patent duration, except during major war time.

That being said, 2014 is very likely to stay for NIMH HEV-PHEV-BEV batteries unless royalties and restrictions are unwieldy unfair. Potential users would have to take aggressive legal actions (that may take years) to attempt to break a very legal patent.

If they succeed,
the precedent may do more long term damage than good.

An improved, highly modified, NiMH batery version may have a better chance.



should have been ....Legislation Branch....

How many have bought BYD between $10 and $12 and sold at $31 three months latter?


What I am wondering is why can't some car company like Tesla make an electric car, minus the batteries. They'd make everything, including the motor and battery slots, sell it for $15,000, and then you'd go buy your own $10,000 worth of D cell NiMH's and solder them in yourself. Of course you'd have the option of using any D cell battery type you'd like, so there's nothing they could do patent-wise to keep anyone from selling this. You'd bypass the large format patent, and have the equivalent of a Rav4-EV for $25,000.


"..change the rules on established patent duration, except during major war time."

The War on Terror is largely based on our desire for oil in the middle east. When your objective is to eliminate the need for middle east oil, patent abuse and restraint of trade loom large. Never say never.

As far as the NIMH D Cells go, they are available everywhere and companies would be more than willing to make packs with warranties. You do not have to resort to the Radio Shack methods. It would be good to have a standard pack.

There was a company making Lola electric kits cars that sold them without batteries. You choose what ever batteries you want and install them.



That's a nice idea that link has but the cars aren't crash tested so you can't go fast. Tesla has crash tested their cars so they're allowed on highways. They could make a version of the Model S where you put your own batteries in.

Account Deleted

There is a way to have a small size battery package (with low cost) in the powertrains of the electric or hybrid vehicles. To see that, you can access the site http://www.hibridesign.com/prod03.htm. This represents also a real world solution to achieve now a zero pollution transport system. The concept uses mainly the charging of the batteries during the time of motion from a simple infrastructure. Another part of the energy is directed to supply the propulsion system.


Stanford Ovshinsky Interview, Part 1, Ovshinsky is asked:
“ So it’s your opinion that Cobasys is preventing other people from making it [high capacity ECD batteries] for that reason”

Ovshinsky himself says, “Cobasys is not preventing anybody, Cobasys just needs an infusion of cash.



"I think we at ECD we made a mistake of having a joint venture with an oil company, frankly speaking. And I think it’s not a good idea to go into business with somebody whose strategies would put you out of business, rather than building the business.[42]"

In a later interview, however, when asked, "So it’s your opinion that Cobasys is preventing other people from making it for that reason?", he responded "Cobasys is not preventing anybody. Cobasys just needs an infusion of cash."


It is usually more fair and honest when you report all the facts, not just the ones that support your point of view.


Tom, can you explain why all the hybrids of today use NiMH batteries (none use lithium), yet all the new pure EV's coming to market use lithium? Despite the fact that lithium is more expensive, has a poorer track record, and as evidenced by the EV1 and RAV4-EV, NiMH will last for 10 years in an EV?


You must comprehend the statement, not "read into" it.

"I think we at ECD we made a mistake of having a joint venture with an oil company, ….."

I assume you expect us to read something sinister into this? To believe there was some obstruction here?
Of what?
Not of the NiMH battery surely.
Explain it if you can, without sounding paranoid.
- Sanford himself says there was no obstruction.

Some company (Chevron or GM), NOT pursuing a technology (NiMH batteries or the BEV) does not stop the technology. How simple can this be?

I am not sure why “hybrids use NiMH (vs. lithium), yet new EV's use lithium? Despite .. lithium is more expensive, poorer track record, and NiMH lasts for 10 years in an EV”
Apparently Li-ion is better, more KWH/lb, KWH/$, but needed development.
How about YOU tell ME how it meshes with your paranoia.


"Cobasys is not preventing anybody. Cobasys just needs an infusion of cash."

So, who's preventing them from getting this infusion of cash?
Of course Ovshinsky is going to say "***Cobasys*** is not preventing anybody..." because he has shares in Cobasys. It's have other owner who's the obstruction.


And you think this "other owner is the obstruction" why?

Because it is possible?

Because thousands of kooks (but few, if any, reputable battery or vehicle makers) say so?

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