Robert Bosch GmbH expects huge demand for electronic stability programs, or ESP, as consumers learn their value.
"ESP can save more lives than the airbag," says Wolfgang Chur, head of automotive sales at the German supplier.
ESP is installed on more than 50 percent of cars built in Germany but only 20 percent of cars produced in France. In the United States and Japan, the installation rate of ESP remains less than 10 percent, he says.
Chur believes ESP's value in preventing rollovers soon will cause rapid growth in the United States. He says there is growing consumer awareness of rollover-accident deaths in SUVs.
He says 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 introduced ESP in 1995. By the end of 2002, it had produced 8 million units.
ESP, which uses 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 technology 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, says direct-injection gasoline engines have not delivered the expected improvement in fuel economy.
He says the savings being achieved are about 7 percent to 9 percent compared with conventional injection systems. Bosch is working on improvements, he says.
"We must improve the cost-benefit relationship for direct injection," Bohr says.
Bohr expects by 2005 or 2006 to achieve fuel savings of as much as 15 percent - the level that Bosch cited when it introduced its direct-injection system. Bosch plans to sell more than 1 million gasoline direct-injection systems annually by 2007.
Chur says 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 $2.2 billion, adding almost 2,000 employees to the 14,000 existing r&d workers, he says.
Bosch registered 2,600 patents in 2002. Bosch intends to raise r&d spending by "a further high single-digit percentage" this year, Chur says. "This is much more than our competitors. No one else at the automakers or suppliers has this innovation power."