In­ter­view: Jan Oliver Rohrl

Bosch are set to in­tro­duce a portfolio of elec­tro­mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions for the global mar­ket. We had a chance to speak to Jan Oliver Röhrl, Chief Tech­ni­cal Of­fi­cer–Mo­bil­ity So­lu­tions and Pow­er­train, at Bosch. Here’s what the fu­ture of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion looks l


Talk­ing about Bosch’s fu­ture plans on elec­tro­mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions

Bike In­dia (BI): You men­tioned that Bosch have the in­te­grated axle with a mo­tor unit that in­te­grates the mo­tor, trans­mis­sion, clutch, and the con­trol unit in the pack­ag­ing. How close is this to se­ries pro­duc­tion? Do you have any main­stream man­u­fac­tur­ers who are ready to pick it up and put it into their two-wheel­ers? Jan Oliver Röhrl (JOR): We are bring­ing this into pro­duc­tion very soon. The beauty of that devel­op­ment is that it is scal­able, rang­ing from 0.25 kW to 20 kW [0.34 PS to 27.2 PS]. If you go to the IAA [Frank­furt Mo­tor Show], you will see that. BI: When you say 0.25 kW to 20 kW, is that spe­cific to the In­dian two-wheeler seg­ment?

JOR: For the two-wheeler, you would also have to look at a com­pletely dif­fer­ent volt­age sys­tem. It would have to be a 48-volt sys­tem, where we also have a full-fledged so­lu­tion avail­able from the pow­er­train to the bat­tery, drive-unit, and the HMI [Hu­man Ma­chine In­ter­face]. It’s all one sys­tem that we are ca­pa­ble of sup­ply­ing. BI: When it comes to bat­tery tech­nol­ogy, it was men­tioned that we are still some time away from solid-state bat­ter­ies. So far as lithium-ion bat­ter­ies are con­cerned, do you have some sort of flex­i­ble so­lu­tion that can be al­tered to fit a cer­tain two-wheeler, say, a scooter or a bike?

JOR: Bosch is not in cell pro­duc­tion. We are buy­ing cells. We are very ca­pa­ble in pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions for mar­kets that are in, if you will, the low-end of mo­bil­ity. We are the big­gest sup­plier for e-mo­bil­ity for push-ped­als. Here, also, we have ex­pe­ri­ence with bat­tery tech­nol­ogy be­cause we are sup­ply­ing such things.

BI: Thus far in In­dia, there have been two sides: the con­ven­tion­ally-pow­ered mo­tor­cy­cles and scoot­ers from main­stream man­u­fac­tur­ers and the elec­tric scooter and bike man­u­fac­tur­ers, usu­ally sourc­ing Chi­nese com­po­nents. Do you see the main­stream man­u­fac­tur­ers adopt­ing some­thing like that any­time soon? Do you have a prod­uct of­fer­ing that they would be in­ter­ested in? Have you been ap­proached by a main­stream man­u­fac­turer — say Ba­jaj or Mahin­dra — that ac­tu­ally seem in­ter­ested in adding an elec­tric line of bikes along­side their com­bus­tion line?

JOR: We would not close the door to any com­pany. So, whether it’s a start-up or a well­known brand in the mar­ket, or a fleet-owner, we would ex­plore jointly what are the re­quire­ments from their side, what are our ex­ist­ing so­lu­tions from our portfolio, and our com­pe­tence in pro­vid­ing a sys­tems so­lu­tion that would be the best fit for them. So we would not ex­clude any­thing here.

BI: At the mo­ment, are there any OEM con­tracts that are close to mak­ing some­thing big out of this?

JOR: I men­tioned at the press con­fer­ence that there might be some an­nounce­ment in the time to come, but not to­day. BI: I was hop­ing to get some clar­ity on the OEM as­pect. Since you have a ready mo­torunit that’s just wait­ing to find a chas­sis that’s

there, it would be eas­ier for some­one to adopt that rather than de­velop their own line. Is the aware­ness there? That’s the ques­tion. Do they know that such a prod­uct ex­ists and that they can have it?

JOR: Ab­so­lutely! We are hav­ing dis­cus­sions with our cus­tomers, also on the eAxle [for cars]. It’s a thought process. You can have in­di­vid­ual com­po­nents and com­bine them. You can have a starter-mo­tor-gen­er­a­tor. You can have an in­te­grated mo­tor-gen­er­a­tor. You can com­bine a bat­tery of X size. You can still use lead-acid bat­ter­ies. The elec­tri­fied three­wheeler mar­ket in In­dia in some cities is still us­ing lead-acid bat­ter­ies. Or, you can go to lithium-ion bat­ter­ies and then think about what is the best sys­tem so­lu­tion for that type of ve­hi­cle. There, the eAxle def­i­nitely also plays a role. BI: Com­ing to your bike-shar­ing model, COUP. Do you have a busi­ness model for In­dia, or are you look­ing at part­ners to im­ple­ment some­thing like that here?

Is it some­thing fea­si­ble that you see hap­pen­ing soon?

JOR: Let me say it’s some­thing where we ex­plore. Mean­while, this model is suit­able also for cities out­side Berlin, in Europe. So why not bring such a thing over to Asia, and why not In­dia? In­dia is a mar­ket with strong or­gan­i­sa­tion, so there could high ac­cep­tance of shared mo­bil­ity where such a model could work.


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