Bosch May Supply CRDi Technology for India “People’s Car”
Things are getting interesting in India
By Brendan Moore
According to sources in the German auto industry, and echoed by Indian sources in New Delhi, Tier One component supplier Bosch is considering the task of providing inexpensive common rail direct injection (CRDi) technology for both the upcoming Tata 1-lakh car and the Renault-Bajaj $3000 USD car, important cars relative to the growth of the Indian auto industry (see ). All three parties have refused to comment on the reports.
If true, it means that Bosch will be supplying CRDi engine technology to Indian car buyers that only exists currently on CRDi hatchbacks that cost at least three times as much as the projected cost of either of the Indian cars. Any CRDi vehicle in India now brings a healthy purchase price as usually only large cars are fitted with the engine, the only exception being the Suzuki Swift diesel. But notwithstanding its size, the Suzuki Swift CRDi is at the top of the food chain in its class in terms of price.
Even at a price premium, though, the Swift is sought after, and other automakers have taken notice. The afore-mentioned Tata is preparing to launch a Dicot Indica CRDi this year, Hyundai is launching two small cars with CRDi engines this year, and it is an open secret that other automakers are considering their own CRDi cars.
Wolf Henning Scheider, president of the Gasoline Systems Division of Robert Bosch, announced two months ago the company’s intent to become “market and technology leaders” in the low price vehicle segment in what seemed to be a somewhat cryptic message at the time. But in those approximately 60 days since, the intent of the statement has become clearer.
Scheider said Robert Bosch is supplying “alternators, brakes and gasoline and diesel engine management systems for the Rs 1-lakh car from Tata” and in only four months, Bosch’s local engineers have “developed viable technical concepts and solutions” for the project. The CRDi technology fitted to a prototype engine reportedly returned fuel mileage in the 65-70 mpg range with an acceptable power output in initial tests, claim industry sources. In a first for the company, Bosch is developing CRDi systems at minimum cost to suit the configuration of an extremely low-cost vehicle. All these efforts add up to India possibly being the epicenter of low-cost CRDi technology in the future, and Bosch being the supplier to same.
Bosch’s involvement in the Tata project has also piqued the interest of the Bajaj-Renault joint venture, who is working like mad to develop their own version of a cheap “people’s car for India (see ). Auto analysts say Bajaj-Renault may leverage Tata’s suppliers while doing their required R&D on its planned $3,000 car. In fact, it is believed they have already been in with Bosch about their future CRDi efforts for small cars in India. If Bajaj-Renault can sit back for a little while and let Tata do all the initial heavy lifting in terms of providing specifications for the inexpensive CRDi technology, they have got to figure that’s a pretty good deal for them.
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