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How e-bikes can improve urban traffic
Each day, we spend an average of about 11.5 hours sitting at our desks, in meetings, on the couch, or at restaurants. As a result, our physical activity is limited and we do not get enough fresh air. Getting to work is also part of the problem. In Germany, some 30 million commuters travel a total of 835 million kilometers each day.
Most of these commuters (82 percent) travel less than 25 kilometers, and could thus leave their cars at home and use e-bikes instead. Pedal electric cycles – pedelecs for short – are equipped with an electric drive that supports cyclists when they need it, thus enabling them to travel distances of up to 25 kilometers without breaking a sweat. Thanks to different levels of support, cyclists can decide themselves how much effort they want to put into pedaling.
Commuters who use pedelecs enjoy a largely stress-free commuting experience: particularly on short routes, e-bikes are often the fastest mode of transportation. Thanks to intelligent route planning, commuters can select routes with few intersections or without stop-and-go traffic. The Nylon onboard computer, which Bosch developed specifically for e-bikes, helps commuters navigate their way to work. The computer can be used to plan routes in advance, often making it possible to avoid long traffic jams. Moreover, pedelecs are eco-friendly: they emit only 1.25 percent the pollutants that cars do. As a result, pedelec users not only do something that is good for their health, they also contribute to protecting the environment.
Bosch spends about 400 million euros each year on e-mobility. The company also offers a broad range of components for e-bikes, among them the drive unit, which includes the motor and transmission, the power pack, and the onboard computer. According to ZIV’s most recent estimates, some 560,000 pedelecs were sold in 2016, up five percent over the previous year. This means that there are currently more than three million pedelecs on German streets.
eBikes can also be used as cargo bikes: in Brussels, Bosch technicians have been using e-cargo bikes since 2016.
More information on the ways in which e-bikes make urban life easier can be found here.
Bosch is involved in a number of research projects that focus on developing innovative energy storage concepts
By 2050, renewable sources of energy will cover more than 80 percent of energy needs. For this reason, offsetting the natural fluctuations in power generated by wind, the sun, and water will be decisive. Energy storage systems will play a central role in this regard. In cooperation with partners from business and science, Bosch is working on a number of pilot projects.
The BiLawE project: electric cars as intelligent energy storage systems
Currently a power bank for mobile phones, an electric vehicle’s battery storage system could one day become part of the power grid, receiving energy from renewable sources. In other words, whenever there is a surplus of energy from green energy sources, the batteries of connected vehicles would be charged. At the same time, the energy storage systems of electric vehicles could also feed energy back into the grid. As part of the publicly funded BiLaWe (bidirectional, inductive charging systems as efficient parts of the power grid) project, Bosch is currently collaborating with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft to find out how this principle can be applied to develop a bidirectional charge system. “In order to master this task, electric vehicles must be connected to the power grid as often as possible and for as long as possible,” explains Philipp Schumann, a project manager at the Bosch research campus in Renningen. The project partners think that this requirement can be met with publicly accessible inductive charging stations. A vehicle that is located at such a station would be charged without contact via a magnetic field. Since it wouldn’t be necessary to connect the vehicle to the charging station with a cable, the vehicles would be more frequently linked to the energy source. The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy and is set to run for three years.
More information on inductive charging systems can be found here.
The “Battery Second Life” project: The rebirth of the car battery
A joint project between Vattenfall, BMW, and Bosch is focusing on the topic of stable power grids. To this end, 2,600 functional used batteries from electric vehicles were used in the development phase: they were connected to one another and turned into a large energy storage system. This system, which has been in operation in a test phase since September 2016, can make energy available within seconds, thus offsetting fluctuations in the power grid. Its capacity is sufficient to supply power to a an average two-person household for a period of seven months. The “Battery 2nd Life” project began in 2013 and is set to run for five years. Among other things, the aim is to make the new energy storage system a lasting part of the energy system.
More information on the energy storage project in Hamburg can be found here.
The DESS2020+ project: storing energy with hydrogen
The aim of the “District Energy Storage and Supply System 2020+” is to stop transporting power generated from renewable sources over large distances in the future. Here, too, opportunities for decentralized energy storage are a central focus. More specifically, Bosch and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) are investigating how an enclosed residential area can be supplied with solar energy that is generated, stored, and consumed locally. The aim is to make energy available to some 100 households as well as to the owners of hydrogen-powered vehicles. To achieve this, the researchers are developing a system based on three core components: a proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (PEM electrolyzer), a fuel cell, and several hydrogen storage tanks. The interplay between them works like this: the PEM electrolyzer uses energy from renewable sources of energy to divide water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is stored in tanks and can be used at any time to operate the fuel cells. These, in turn, deliver heating energy for the connected building as required. In contrast to other energy sources, large amounts of hydrogen can be stored at a relatively low price, and this is a major advantage. What is more, it can contribute to eco-friendly mobility. A hydrogen dispenser could be installed at a location where fuel-cell powered vehicles could be filled within a few minutes. Set to run until 2018, the research project is part of the German Federal Ministry of the Economy and Energy’s “Research for an eco-friendly, reliable, and affordable energy supply” research project.
More information on new storage technology for green energy can be found here.
Bosch is launching a sharing service for e-scooters under the Coup brand
Traffic, hectic road conditions, and the search for parking spots make urban driving especially challenging. To offer city dwellers and visitors access to flexible mobility solutions, Bosch is launching the Coup e-scooter sharing service. With the agile e-scooters, Coup, a Bosch subsidiary, is now offering Berliners a simple, emissions-free alternative to their own cars. Gogoro, a leading e-scooter manufacturer, is providing the electric two-wheelers. With their smartphones, users can conveniently locate and reserve the closest scooters. When they have done this, they can hop onto the scooters and ride off. Once they reach their destination, they simply leave the scooter anywhere in the downtown area.
For the start of the project, 200 connected e-scooters are being distributed in Berlin Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg. Searches and reservations can be carried out in just a few seconds with an easy to use app, which also serves as the key for the helmet compartment and ignition. Once users have completed their ride, the app also automatically issues a bill, just as apps for car-sharing platforms do. Thanks to flat rates, pricing is easy to understand: the use of a fully charged scooter costs 3 euros per half hour, or 20 euros a day. Scooters can travel up to 100 kilometers on a single charge, and Coup covers the cost of charging. To rent a scooter, users must be at least 21 years old and have a license to drive cars or motorcycles.
With the new Coup sharing service, Bosch is contributing to flexible and eco-friendly mobility in urban areas. The platform thus provides a new building block for the Mobility Solutions business sector. This will help Bosch shape its response to modern mobility requirements. If demand is high, the company will expand the service to other parts of the city in the near future.
More information on Coup and practical e-scooters can be found here.
Interested users can also register for the initial phase of the sharing service on the Coup website.
Bosch takes top ranks in a European innovation ranking for alternative drive systems
According to the Thomson Reuters “2016 State of Innovation” report, when it comes to alternative drive systems, Bosch holds more patents than any other company in Europe. The analysis was based on the number of patents that companies filed between 2011 and 2015. Even in a global comparison, Bosch did very well with 3,057 inventions: only Toyota did better during the same time period. In the general ranking of the most innovative companies in the automotive industry, in 2015 Bosch took third place behind Toyota and Hyundai, with a total of 2,390 patents.
The high ranking is largely attributable to the company’s activities in the realm of e-mobility, which is considered decisive for reducing the CO2 emissions caused by road traffic and conserving fossil fuels, which are increasingly scarce around the world. Each year, Bosch spends 400 million euros on e-mobility related research and development activities. The aim is to enable the technology to achieve a breakthrough.
Bosch’s development work not only includes continuous innovation in the areas of electric motors, power electronics, and batteries. The company is also working on developing a networked charging infrastructure. Most recently, Bosch Software Innovations cooperated with carmakers to develop charging apps for the owners of electric vehicles. With the help of their smart phones, the electric cars can now be navigated to the next charging station, where drivers can make a cash-free payment using the app. The service, which is already offered by Mercedes-Benz and smart, and will soon also be available for Renault drivers, already includes a network of 3,700 charging stations of different providers across Germany. Some 80 percent of the stations in the network are public charge stations. The network is an important step toward making electric vehicles suitable for everyday use, and thus more attractive to potential buyers.
German federal government and automotive industry create new purchasing incentives
Since May 1, 2016, consumers who opt for a low-emission electric car have been eligible to receive an environmental bonus of 4,000 euros. Buyers of plug-in hybrid vehicles can receive a premium of 3,000 euros. The decision was made by the German federal government in cooperation with German carmakers at the automotive summit that took place in Berlin in the middle of April. The cost of some 1.2 billion euros is being split by the government and carmakers. The purchase of new cars will be supported up to a net list price of 60,000 euros. Until now, BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen vehicles are eligible for the premium.
The bonus is meant to serve as initial incentive to buy. In 2009, the German federal government launched a plan to get one million electric vehicles onto Germany’s streets by 2020. At present, however, there are only 55,000 cars with electric or hybrid drives on the country’s roads. “The measures introduced today are an important and necessary step toward achieving this ambitious goal,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. In addition to the buyer’s premium, the German government is making funds available to expand charging infrastructure. Some 15,000 additional charge stations are expected to be installed across Germany in the coming years.
The cost of vehicles will play a decisive role in the breakthrough of electric drive technologies. To reduce this cost, batteries must become more affordable. For this reason, Bosch is investing both its expertise and money: together with its Japanese partners Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa, the company is researching lithium-ion technology. In addition to this, Bosch acquired Seeo, an American company, in the fall of 2015. The start-up has the expertise required to significantly increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries and the range of electric vehicles. Not only has Bosch set itself the goal of doubling the distance electric vehicles can travel on a single charge by 2020, it also aims to halve the cost of batteries.
More information about Bosch’s e-mobility activities can be found here.