Robert Bosch is working on a new-generation particulate filter that it plans to offer carmakers by 2005 or 2006.
The world's leading supplier of diesel engine management systems does not currently make exhaust filters. But in February Bosch bought the rights to a new sinter metal filter technology from German exhaust supplier HJS.
In late March, Bosch established a 20-man development team to work on the project.
Bosch expects to sign the first development contracts for the new technology this summer, with market introduction by 2006.
Bosch expects 1.5 million new cars to have particulate filters in Europe by 2006. It says that the filters are required to meet US emissions standards for 2007.
Particulate filters will comprise at least a E100 million business by 2006, says Bernd Bohr, head of engine management systems at Bosch.
The new technology could allow particulate filters to last 200,000km, or the full life of most cars. Existing particulate filters have a life of about 80,000 kilometers, says Ulrich Dohle, head of development for Bosch diesel systems.
The move suggests that German carmakers will follow the lead of French manufacturers by offering particulate filters across a broad range of diesel-powered cars.
German executives have argued that, if possible, Euro 4 norms for NOx and particulate emissions should be met by technologies within the engine, rather than through after-treatment of exhaust emissions.
The industry fears that widespread availability of filters may encourage legislation to mandate them, adding up to a few hundred euros to the price of a car with a high-pressure direct-injection diesel.
At least two German-designed cars, including the Audi A4, are expected to show optional particulate filters at Frankfurt auto show in September.
But Bosch is also pursuing efficiency gains inside the engine. It will launch a new high-pressure diesel injection system later this year.
Klaus Bohler, head of sales for Bosch's diesel engine division, says the company's new third generation piezo inline injector common-rail system enables most cars with a weight of up to 2 tonnes to meet Euro 4 norms without a particulate filter.
The system reduces NOx and particulate emissions by 15 to 20 percent, says Bosch, and can be installed with relatively few modifications.
The new injection system will be launched on a high-end car at the Frankfurt show. Bohr says that Bosch is working with six carmakers on 10 applications of the new system.
Bosch will have invested E100 million in its third generation common-rail system by the end of 2003, says Bohr. The new system will go into production at Bosch's Bamberg, Germany, plant in the second half of 2003. The company plans to produce 200,000 to 300,000 units in 2004.
By 2005 or 2006, Bosch expects 15 percent of new diesel cars produced in Germany to be fitted with its third generation system.
Bosch sees continued growth in diesel demand in Europe and a growing share in the North American market and in Asia outside Japan. The company expects global diesel-powered vehicle production to grow from 14 million in 2003 to over 20 million by 2012.
Bosch's diesel systems division reported sales of E6.65 billion in 2002.