"We have considerable hybrid competency in-house," said Bernd Bohr, Bosch's chairman of automotive operations. "But at the same time, outside know-how on some issues has to be integrated. That's why project-related partnerships and cooperation are the instruments of choice."
Bosch rivals Continental AG and ZF Friedrichshafen announced last month a pact to jointly develop hybrid technology. The two German companies aim to deliver their products to manufacturers starting in 2007. Also last month BMW joined DaimlerChrysler and General Motors to develop new hybrid vehicle technology.
Bohr is convinced that exclusive partnerships aren't the right approach, for instance, the world's largest parts maker cooperates with a number of companies that specialize in batteries.
"We cooperate wherever it makes sense," Bohr said.
Bosch's in-house hybrid team is made up of 300 engineers, 100 of them are from its braking, engine controls and power electronics units.
Bohr says hybrids are one of three technologies that the supplier is pursuing to help reduce fuel consumption in the future. The others are diesel- and gasoline-direct-injection technologies.
He believes stoichiometric injection with turbocharging has the greatest chance of catching on in direct-injection technology.
"It is a technology that can be applied worldwide in all regulatory environments for vehicle emissions," he said.
In addition, the company is busy working on technologies for cars that cost less than 7,000 euros, or about $8,400 at current exchange rates.
"The share for these vehicles is rising twice as fast as the mainstream market," he said. "In particular, manufacturers in emerging markets in Asia will initially specialize in these vehicles. As a supplier, we have to be there with them."