STUTTGART - Robert Bosch GmbH plans to collaborate more with companies that can help it fill gaps in its hybrid expertise.
"We have considerable hybrid competency in-house," said Bernd Bohr, head of Bosch's automotive operations.
"But at the same time, outside know-how on some issues has to be integrated.
"That's why project-related partnerships and cooperation are the instruments of choice."
In August, Bosch's rivals Continental AG and ZF Friedrichshafen announced a pact to develop hybrid technology. The two German companies aim to start delivering products in 2007.
Also in August, BMW AG joined DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors to develop hybrid vehicle technology.
Bohr says exclusive partnerships aren't the right approach.
For instance, Bosch cooperates with a number of companies that specialize in batteries.
"We cooperate wherever it makes sense," Bohr says.
Bosch's in-house hybrid team is made up of 300 engineers, 100 of whom are from its braking, engine controls and power electronics units.
Bohr says hybrids are one of three technologies Bosch is pursuing to help reduce fuel consumption. The others are diesel and gasoline direct-injection technologies.
He believes stoichiometric injection - injecting the ideal balance of air and fuel - combined with turbocharging has the greatest chance of catching on in direct-injection technology.
"It is a technology that can be applied worldwide in all regulatory environments for vehicle emissions," he says.
In addition, the company is busy working on technologies for cars that cost less than 7,000 euros, or about $8,400 at current exchange rates.
"The share for these vehicles is rising twice as fast as the mainstream market," he says.
"In particular, manufacturers in emerging markets in Asia will initially specialize in these vehicles. As a supplier, we have to be there with them."
Robert Bosch ranks No. 1 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $27.2 billion in 2004.