Bosch sees big growth ahead in chassis systems, but the delayed introduction of 42-volt systems will also slow braking and steering by wire.
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, said Drees, but ESP is taking 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 where the installation rate is only about 6 percent "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. Better functions should raise installation rates, including 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 postponing 42-volt 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. It is not available today.
"We do not see any clear tendency to jump across this hurdle," said Drees.
Drees said that electronic content in cars can still grow without adding the cost of 42-volt systems.
In the long term, 42 volts will be needed, he said, "but we are quite far away from this limit."