Bosch sees big growth in chassis systems in the next few years, but the delay in the introduction of 42-volt systems means that the shift to brake and steering by wire is delayed.
The electronic chassis business has grown at 29 percent a year between 1978 and 2003, said Wolfgang Drees, deputy board member at Bosch and president of the chassis systems business.
The electronic content on brake systems -- such as antilock brakes (ABS), electronic stability programs (ESP), traction control and electronic actuation -- is now as big as the basic foundation brake business, and the rate of diffusion of new applications has accelerated.
ABS took 20 years to reach a 40 percent installation rate in Europe, says Drees, but ESP took just 10 years to reach the same penetration.
Drees says that short term the big growth opportunity for the chassis systems business is further growth in ESP.
The German installation rate for ESP was 49 percent in 2002, but it was only 24 percent in France, 16 percent in Spain, 12 percent in the UK and 11 percent in Italy.
Outside Europe the installation rate is only about 6 percent "is there is plenty of room to grow," said Drees.
He believes that an important ingredient in ESP growth will be simply greater public awareness of the benefits.
"We know active safety is important to consumers," said Drees. He said a study by Mercedes-Benz showed a 29 percent decline in single-vehicle crashes in ESP-equipped vehicles. A similar study by Toyota recorded a 35 percent decrease.
Drees said that in addition there are new functions that build on the basic ESP that will raise the day-to-day profile of the systems for drivers and should raise installation rates - such as automated park brakes, hill-hold control, adaptive cruise control and roll-over prevention.
Bosch's new automated park brake concept, for example, uses ESP with a hydraulically actuated locking device on the rear brake calipers to offer what Drees calls a win-win-win for consumers, OEMs and Bosch - higher safety, fewer parts but additional content for Bosch.
Drees said that the postponement of 42 volts systems will delay the introduction of brake and steer by wire because a fully redundant fail-safe 42 volt system is an important pre-requisite, and it is not available today.
"We do not see any clear tendency to jump across this hurdle," said Drees.
Drees said that for now there is still room for the electronic content in cars to grow without adding the cost of 42 volts systems.
In the long term 42 volts will be needed.
He said: "But we are quite far away from this limit."