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Exclusive interview with Bosch: eMobility Solutions

04/06/2011 -

Bosch Software Innovations has developed a software and hardware platform for charging infrastructure that will be open to all e-mobility stakeholders including electric utilities, charging spot manufacturers, mobility service providers, fleets, electric vehicle manufacturers, parking lot managers and single drivers. cars21.com has talked to Thomas Weber, Director at Bosch Software and System House, about projects where Bosch is currently using this platform.

1. cars21.com: What kind of EV related services and products does the Bosch Group provide?

Thomas Weber: The Bosch Group is active in several areas concerning electric vehicles. Inside the car, Bosch is active in the development of components such as for the electric powertrain, and high voltage batteries in a joint venture together with Samsung. We are also working on brake systems and thermal management systems.

What we are talking about today, however, are systems and infrastructure outside of the car, namely charging stations and the software connecting the cars and the drivers.

Bosch's eMobility Solution consists of the software connecting the charging infrastructure, the car, the driver and mobile phones. It also consists of hardware, namely charging stations. Then there is the interface for communication with the charging infrastructure. Every 3rd party infrastructure provider who wants to jump onto the electric mobility will be able to download the description of our interface from our website and use it to connect their offerings.

It is an open solution. Why does Bosch do this? Because we believe that our customers appreciate competition - on a technical as well as commercial level - and are not interested in being dependent from one specific provider. It is effective in bringing down the price of charging infrastructure and related services.

2. cars21.com: What do you consider necessary for creating a prosper "EV Eco-system"?

Thomas Weber: We are convinced that an eco-system will develop around electric mobility and mobility in general. To make it prosper, we need an open environment where all interested parties and stakeholders can participate. We need an environment open to new business ideas whether they are related directly to electric vehicle technologies or value adding services around it. The more offers there will be, the more attractive the EV eco-system will be and the greater additional pull it will generate.

3. cars21.com: Where do you see the greatest challenges/difficulties in creating this new EV-ecosystem?

Thomas Weber: One prerequisite is that electric vehicles will be more widely available this year. Very important is access to charging infrastructure, the availability of which will also considerably improve over the next two years since many projects have been started to put publicly available charging infrastructure in place.

From a business perspective, there must be a possibility to join this eco-system without additional upfront investment, particularly since in the beginning the number of participants will be comparably low. The entry barrier must be lowered. For this reason, Bosch has created the eMobility Starter Package: Hereby, Bosch is offering its eMobility Solution in the from of Software as a Service (SaaS). It is not necessary to expensively invest into IT infrastructure. Especially for projects which start small this is an interesting offer, which is upgradable.

All basic functionalities are provided, which consist in connecting to charging infrastructure, making transaction data available, the customer management, etc. The 3rd party service provider can rent a service scaled to their needs.

4. cars21.com: In how many EV infrastructure projects is Bosch currently involved?

Thomas Weber: We are involved in several projects. The Singapore project, for example, which has been a commercial tender. We have been mandated by the Singapore government to install and run e-mobility infrastructure in Singapore and assume all tasks of the e-mobility service provider in Singapore over the next 5 years. Bosch started the charging infrastructure roll-out in Singapore in the 4th quarter of last year and from the 3rd quarter of this year on it will open to the public.

The charging infrastructure is threefold: free-standing charging stations manufactured by Bosch, wall-mounted chargers for semi-private premises mainly by local manufacturers, and DC quick chargers. These different types of hardware will serve the different charging needs of EV drivers, and show the openness of our solution.

In the MeRegio Mobil project in the Stuttgart area, we take part in a publicly-funded project during which in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe 110 charging stations are now being installed. This project will also test bi-directional loading and vehicle-to-grid communication.

We are also connecting several Bosch facilities in Germany and Europe, to manage the electric vehicle fleet plus the electric vehicles owned by employees privately and that are charged at work.

Since the beginning of this year, we are, alongside several OEMs and utilities, involved in the French German Fleet Operational Test, funded by the EU. This project deals with the question of interoperability between the two countries and their respective standards. Here we are especially looking at the important roaming aspect of eMobility..

Roaming alone encompasses several aspects. There is roaming of functionality - drivers who drive into another city, region or country need to be able to charge there as well. Secondly, transaction data might need to be made available for billing. And a third step would be service roaming, meaning that the driver can consume the value added services that he or she is inscribed to also in other parts of the country or abroad. The roaming module for this project will be developed by Bosch.

5. cars21.com: Does Bosch also engage in standardisation initiatives?

Thomas Weber: Yes. Bosch Software Innovations, our specific branch inside the Bosch group, is for example a member of the international standardisation working group on charging infrastructure.

6. cars21.com: If you would be asked to formulate a global action plan for a rapid introduction of electric vehicles, what would be your top 3 points on the agenda?

Thomas Weber: There is no universal answer to this. But what is needed is the following:

  • cars in sufficient numbers (happening this year)
  • charging infrastructure to tackle range anxiety (already happening and mostly funded by governments)
  • interoperability and the possibility of roaming to make electro-mobility available to everybody (has already started)

This is more an observation than a wish list, because these things are already happening. On top of that, we have to ensure that the distances that currently can be travelled from the technological point of view - 100-150km - can also be travelled from an infrastructure point of view.

Our believe is that it will not be sufficient to install plugs just at home and on the streets. To make electro-mobility economically viable, we have to do more than just sell electric vehicles and electricity. The key for a valid business case will be the surrounding services, such as the free choice of the provider and services, different forms of charging, the offer of personal eco-tariffs, the use of resources such as inner city parking lots.