Bosch business fires on – almost – all cylinders
Despite weak growth in the worldwide automotive industry as Bosch’s most important customer, the company’s Mobility Business segment achieved a growth of 12 % to reach 41.7 billion. Particularly successful product groups were fuel injection systems (gasoline as well as diesel), driver assistance systems and infotainment systems.
For the future, Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner expects particularly high demand from the electrification of the mobility. Having acquired US-based battery technology company Seeo Inc. in 2015, Bosch believes to have future-oriented expertise in the area of innovative solid-state battery cells. Another segment to which Bosch pins its hopes is electric and electronic equipment for two-wheelers as well as for commercial vehicles. For both market segments, the company has recently launched focused business units.
According to the company, the three big trends of mobility – automation, electrification and connectivity – will also have significant influence to the design of two-wheelers and commercial vehicles: For commercial vehicles, the increasing automation will help to reduce accidents. In two-wheeler segment, electronic fuel injection systems are expected to displace the carburetors. This will help to reduce fuel consumption as well as exhaust emission. In emerging markets, the changeover from traditional carburetors to electronic injection is a large business.
At the opportunity of the presentation of the annual results, Denner highlighted Bosch’s position in the ongoing diesel discussion. He stressed the low CO2 emission of this type of engine, saying “only with diesel engines it will be possible to reach the European Union’s ambitious CO2 goals.”. Even in the discussion about air quality and particulate matter, “diesel technology is a part of the solution, not a part of the problem”, he said, adding that with adequate filter technology, it would even be possible to clean the air in large cities. “The diesel engine actually is an air cleaning engine”.
The Internet of Things is currently changing Bosch’s business in a dramatic way. Bosch claims to be the only market player worldwide to be active on all three levels of the IoT: Sensors, software and services.
Nevertheless, the optimisation potential of diesel engines is far from being exhausted, Denner said. According to the Bosch CEO, the technology is available to minimise the NOx emission of the compression-ignition engine. In the context of the ongoing VW exhaust gas scandal discussion, Denner said he advocates the introduction of “realistic” test procedures and test cycles, including exhaust measurements in real driving.
Not all of Bosch’s four business segments were equally successful, though. While the company’s Energy and Building Technology segment achieved a growth rate of 11 percent, driven mostly by industrial security solutions and smart heating products.
In strong demand were electric tools and home appliances like a product line of stoves with internet connectivity. Thus, Bosch’s Consumer Goods segment grew 9.3 percent and reached sales of €17.3 billion.
Less successful was the Industrial Technology segment. Soft demand from the global machine tool industry causes sales in this business to drop 1.7 percent to €6.6 billion.
For the year ahead, Denner provided a rather cautious outlook. The company still expects an overall growth albeit at reduced speed of just 2.8 percent. Sources of strong revenue are expected to be ”connected everything” – mobility, industry, energy systems and buildings. “Only with connected technologies we can meet the challenges of the future such as shortages of resources and urbanisation. To make connected solutions successful, the technology must be easily and intuitively to use. For this reason, the company will focus on factors like user experience and usability.