The Bosch Group’s Automotive Electronics Division develops, makes and sells electronic products for automotive applications. The division is headquartered near Stuttgart/Germany, in Reutlingen.
Bosch’s products include electronic control units, body electronics, and – as one of the bases for the entire company’s success – automotive specific electronic components, such as sensors in MEMS technology (micro-electro-mechanical systems) and application specific ICs (ASICs).
Bosch started the development and manufacturing of electronic components about 40 years ago with diodes for alternators and – since then – has continuously expanded its component portfolio.
The Automotive Electronics Division has its core competencies in system integration and application engineering – both on ECU level and on component level. This becomes more and more relevant as new high integration approaches bring previous ECU functionality now into one single chip.
Today, the Bosch component range spans from a large variety of ASICs and power semiconductors to MEMS sensors . Several hundred highly skilled engineers work on the development of new products. The Automotive Electronics Division has been certified according to QS9000, ISO/TS 16949 and ISO14001.
Apart from internal supplies to all other Bosch divisions, a growing part of the devices is being sold to Tier 1 worldwide through a dedicated component sales and application organisation. In addition, Bosch Sensortec, an independently acting 100 % Bosch subsidiary serves the market with dedicated consumer electronics sensor products.
In the area of automotive semiconductors and sensors, Bosch Automotive Electronics ranks among the Top 5 makers in Europe and among the Top 10 worldwide. For automotive MEMS sensors, Bosch is the worldwide leading supplier.
Due to further growing demands for their automotive devices, the Bosch division started building of their new wafer fab in Reutlingen in 2007, AI reported this already last year. The fab is expected to be operational from next year.
Automotive Industries spoke to Christoph Kübel, president of the Automotive Electronics division of Bosch.
AI: What are some of the trends in microelectronics for automotive applications?
CK: The ongoing CO2 discussion has given additional push on the request for control electronics that help to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of vehicles. The move towards cars with hybrid drive or sheer electric drive has accelerated. Efficiency will be the key to tomorrow’s microelectronics.
AI: What does this mean for your products?
CK: For our microelectronics we deduct an increasing need for even more efficient concepts to control and distribute power, on ECU level but increasingly also for the individual component. Alternative drive concepts will lead to a strong increase for electronic components.
AI: Why you decided to build the new waferfab in Reutlingen and not e.g. in Far East?
CK: Our pre-investigations showed that in our business, a waferfab in Germany is able to compete with waferfabs in other places such as Asia. So from this side there was no need for a transfer. Another thing we identified is that a short distance in between R&D and manufacturing is a key element for starting new products at a high quality level and then keep it on this level. We believe that especially for our semiconductors and sensors it is a key success factor that R&D, QC and our main component fabs are located in Reutlingen, close to our customers. Simply speaking: “All is coming out of one hand”with Reutlingen being the center of a global manufacturing network. And as far as I can tell, our customers are very satisfied with this solution.
AI: As a component maker you are in a Tier 2 position with strong ties to the other Bosch automotive divisions. Is this a problem for your external business?
CK: The reason why our external customers buy from us is exactly because of the experience that made Bosch the worldwide leading automotive supplier. Our customers can actually buy our competence on various levels of complexity: system, ECU and of course components. Over the past years, we have continuously increased our sales and application staff and this will go on for the next years as our external business grows further. In addition we have successfully started to enter the consumer market with Bosch Sensortec.
AI: Where do you see Automotive Electronics in 20 years?
CK: As the electrification of vehicles will continue, there will be a strong need for high quality, high performance control electronics. Our division Automotive Electronics plans to have a significant share from that.