Bosch expects huge growth in demand for electronic stability program systems in the near future as consumers learn their value.
"ESP can save more lives than the airbag," said Wolfgang Chur, head of automotive sales at the German supplier.
ESP is installed on more than 50 percent of new cars built in Ger-many, but only 20 percent of new cars produced in France. In the USA and Japan, the installation rate of ESP is still less than 10 percent, he said.
But Chur believes that ESP's value in preventing rollovers will cause rapid growth in the USA soon. He said there is growing consumer awareness of rollover-accident deaths in sport-utilities.
He said Bosch plans to increase production of ESP systems from 3 million units in 2002 to 3.6 million in 2003 to retain market leadership in the segment.
Bosch launched ESP in 1995. By the end of 2002 it had produced 8 million units.
ESP, which utilizes sensors and actuators from ABS and traction control systems, takes inputs from brake pressure, yaw rate and wheel speed sensors to determine traction at each corner. It then provides the optimum amount of stability and grip in extreme lateral movement situations.
ESP is not the only new technology that Stuttgart-based Bosch is counting on for growth. Bosch also forecasts increasing demand for gasoline direct-injection systems, despite widespread disappointment among automakers over early performance.
Bernd Bohr, board member with responsibility for engine management systems, said direct-injection gasoline engines had not delivered the expected improvement in fuel economy.
He said the savings being achieved are about 7 to 9 percent compared with conventional injection systems. Bosch is working on improvements, he said.
"We must improve the cost-benefit relationship for direct injection," Bohr said.
Bohr expects by 2005 or 2006 to achieve fuel savings of up to 15 percent - the level that Bosch cited when it launched its GDI system.
Bosch plans to sell more than 1 million gasoline direct-injection systems annually by 2007.
Chur said Bosch intends to remain a leader in supplying innovative systems to automakers. Bosch boosted r&d spending in the automotive sector last year by 12 percent to E2.1 billion, adding almost 2,000 employees to the 14,000 existing r&d workers, he said.
Bosch registered 2,600 patents in 2002.
Bosch intends to raise r&d spending by "a further high single-digit percentage" this year, Chur said.
"This is much more than our competitors," he said. "No one [else] at the automakers or suppliers has this innovation power."