Bosch Boosting North American Technology Investments
Bosch plans to invest $664 million in North America in 2022, including $420 million for automotive-industry-related “mobility solutions” for electrification and fuel cells.
Executives with Bosch, named this week as Informa Tech Automotive Group’s Tier 1 Supplier of the Year, note part of the investment will be used to localize development and production in North America to offset rapidly rising material costs. Steel, resins used in plastics, and copper used in electric motors have tripled in price over the past two years.
Paul Thomas, Bosch executive vice president for mobility solutions in the Americas, says the investment in automotive is being driven by electrification. In 2021, Bosch customers committed $12 billion to electrification projects.
The computing power of vehicles also is increasing, Thomas (pictured, below left) says. Vehicles built in 2022 and 2023 will have substantially more computing power than those built in 2019, and Bosch says it is the only major supplier of automotive components to commit to making its own semiconductors, starting with the wafer, he says. Given the lead times involved and the growing demand for semiconductors from other sectors of the economy, it is difficult to predict when the shortages of semiconductors that have plagued the industry will end, he says.
Bosch also is investing in technology such as fuel cells, which can be used not only for transportation but to supply power for household goods. The company has seen demand for consumer products such as washers and dryers grow by 20% in the past year.
“While we face headwinds related to the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain disruption, raw materials cost increases and more, our team in North America continues to rise to meet those challenges and support growth and recovery of the business here in the region,” says Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America, which posted sales of $13.5 billion last year.
“We are all-in for the hydrogen economy,” Mansuetti says, including development of mobile fuel cells for heavy-duty trucks, electrolysis and stationary fuel cells for home or commercial uses such as heating.
“Our hydrogen portfolio is expansive across multiple domains in a way no other company can match. This cross-domain knowledge will enable Bosch to lead when it comes to driving hydrogen as a climate-neutral solution. And we are committed to local production of hydrogen solutions in the North American region in the coming years,” he says.
Globally, Bosch will increase its capital spending for mobile fuel cells to more than $1 billion between 2021 and 2024.
Bosch also is entering the components business for hydrogen electrolysis. The company says it will invest nearly $600 million in this new area of business by the end of the decade – half of it by the time of market launch, which is planned for 2025.
Bosch is developing components for electrolyzers, which use electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Ideally, the electricity for this purpose is generated from renewable sources such as wind or solar, resulting in so-called green hydrogen (pictured, below). Bosch is supplying the stack – the core of the hydrogen electrolysis system – which combines with power electronics, sensors and a control unit to create a smart module.
In the U.S., Bosch is evaluating how its electrolyzer technology can bring clean hydrogen to the market. Of particular interest are opportunities created by the U.S. Department of Energy’s $9.5 billion Clean Hydrogen Initiative, which is based on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The decentralized fuel cell is another strategic focus for Bosch. The Bosch Solid Oxide Fuel Cell energy supply system can use both renewable fuels (hydrogen from wind or sun, for example) and conventional fuels (biomethane or natural gas) to generate electricity and heat. The technology can be used in residential urban areas, commercial buildings, industrial plants and data centers.