All the vehicles in the future will be electric, says Bosch’s Vijay Ratnaparkhe
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New Delhi Bosch India’s growth strategy seems to be a leitmotif of the National Democratic Alliance government’s pet themes, ranging from smart cities to electric vehicles. In an interview, Vijay Ratnaparkhe, managing director and president, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, spoke about his vision for “an electrified, shared and autonomous rides” for the future. Ratnaparkhe who was in New Delhi to launch a portable micro-climate monitoring system, also talked about the merits of vehicles fuelled by hydrogen-powered fuel cells and batteries. Edited excerpts:
Where do you see India’s electric vehicles policy going?
The government is giving a very good direction that by 2030 (the government plans for a mass scale shift to electric vehicles by 2030), we want to get there and the government is giving an aspirational target. When I work in my company, I look for these aspirational targets. You can move the masses with that (laughs)...For me its very important to have an aspiration and fail at that, than not have one at all.
The automobile industry is divided on the issue with some in favour of EVs (electric vehicles) with the others in favour of hydrogen-powered fuel cells. How do you see this evolving?
Fundamentally, it has to be still proven that a very huge tonnage truck can really run on batteries. This experiment I am sure that some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are doing and so on. My belief is that for larger tonnage and commercial vehicles, you might end up on the path, I am saying purely from a technical perspective...you may end up with a hydrogen-based fuel cell and therefore an electric vehicle but based on a fuel cell hydrogen versus passenger cars which could be based on the battery-based electric (vehicle).
What do you mean by an electrified, shared and autonomous ride future and what is the time frame for it?
All the vehicles in the future will be electric...They are automated, so there is autonomous driving. They are connected, and they are shared. This is the future of transportation.
What will it entail to have all of your products connected?
We can take an example to make it feel how easy it is. We can take one of the fridges. Now, if you have to make this fridge intelligent, you need some chip, a tiny camera, an operating system which will connect to your phone on bluetooth and you will try to take the pictures inside the fridge. From that picture you will decipher whichever content is down and will order for you. I am just making a case. To make this, everything is available.
Is there a conscious effort on part of Bosch to create a structured narrative on the subject of connected products?
We wanted to show that ‘future connected’ is a possibility, we have been doing...We just wanted to de-focus on automotive and come to connected life.
What is the total workforce you employ in India and what are your expansion plans?
I guess we have 36,000 people. The ramping up of the capacity will be largely of engineers. It will be not much. But in the last 10 years, we grew from 3,000 to 20,000...In the next three years I would imagine that we will be adding another 3,000 engineers.
What will be the impact of US President Donald Trump’s announcement of walking away from the Paris climate agreement on the sectors you are present in?
I think there are some blips. When you go for a path of progress, the path of progress first of all is positively inclined. It is never negatively inclined. So, you have to do a little effort to progress as humanity. Let us make that the first assumption. The moment we have a path of progress inclined, there are certain possibilities that the humanity starts taking a step or two back. But eventually knowing that a rational human being will want a lovely green earth, this is not going away.