Research and development is what drives the 43.7-billion Euro a year Bosch Group, including its Automotive Electronics Division headquartered in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. The group invested 7.6% of revenues in R&D in 2006 – the bulk going to automotive technology. In 2006, Automotive Technology (AE) generated sales of nearly 27.2-billion Euro, with nearly 10% invested in R&D.
Around the world, some 26,000 associates are involved in R&D for Bosch, which patented around 2,800 inventions in 2005. Bosch is Germany’s second-largest patent applicant, and the world leader for automotive technology. Bosch’s AE products include electronic control units, contract manufacture of ECUs, electronic occupant protection systems, driver assistance systems, body electronics, semiconductors and sensors.
It also has core competencies in systems integration and application engineering. The division’s customer base includes the Bosch Group and most OEMs. Automotive Industries spoke to Dr. Volkmar Denner, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH responsible for the Automotive Electronics division.
Automotive Industries (AI): Where does the Automotive division fit in the Bosch group?
Denner: Automotive Electronics (AE) serves as a competence center for electronics. AE develops and manufactures electronic components such as high by integrated ICs, sensors as well as complete electronic control boards for the other Bosch system divisions. A few years ago we decided to also sell our components and IP know-how to the open market for automotive and non-automotive applications. The automotive part is served by our component sales group, while sensors for the consumer market are sold through Bosch Sensortec.
AI: Bosch has been a core member of the FlexRay consortium since 2001. Who are your customers?
Denner: FlexRay is one of the most important bus protocols for the near future. Our FlexRay Communication controller IP module “E-Ray” enables IC makers to add FlexRay capabilities to their hardware in a time and cost effective way. As we do not publish any customer specific information, I cannot tell you the names of these companies. What I can tell you is that the majority of the controller makers have already decided to license from Bosch. We also are in discussions with a growing number of companies planning to use our product for FlexRay testers and evaluation equipment.
AI: What is new?
Denner: Our dual channel fully integrated current regulator CG208 is designed to control oil pressure valves in hydraulic systems. Features are the high accuracy better than 1% and the compact housing.
For low and medium sized airbag systems we developed new system ICs that combine power supply, digital sensor interfaces, inputs for analog switches as well as Firing Loops – all on one chip.
The system basis chip CY320 supplies power to the microprocessor and the entire ECU board. With its sensor interfaces and transceivers for CAN-Bus communication as well as diagnosis and an integrated VDA 2.0 compliant 3-Level-Watchdog, it is the ideal companion for ECUs that are using the Tricore µC-Family.
With SMB4xx-series we now present the 3rd Generation of Bosch acceleration sensors. The sensors handle a wide acceleration range from 48g up to 480g and feature a PSI-Interface.
Our answer to the growing market for Tire Pressure Monitoring systems is the SMD400. It includes pressure and temperature sensor and an integrated RF transmitter. Samples will be available from Mid 2007.
AI: Do you see that more product development happening outside Germany?
Denner: AE’s development center for microelectronic and micromechanical components is based in Reutlingen, Germany and we plan to keep it there in future. Also our main manufacturing facilities for Semiconductors and Sensors are located there. “Made in Germany” is still very important for our component business.