Bosch plans to leverage its dominant market position in combustion engine technology to become the leading supplier of zero-emissions solutions for electric vehicle manufacturers.

According to a report in Automotive News Europe, the world’s largest supplier of auto parts has earmarked investments worth the equivalent of R5,7-billion a year for the development of electro-mobility.

The company has also indicated that it may compete with Asian manufacturers Panasonic, LG Chem and Samsung by industrialising the assembly of battery cells.

“We are No 1 in the market for combustion engine systems and we are aiming for this spot as a supplier for electro-mobility,” Bosch’s CEO, Volkmar Denner, told reporters last month at the company’s Annual General Meeting in Stuttgart.

Denner said though Bosch estimated that about 85-million vehicles built in 2025 would still run solely on fossil fuels, the company believed that an additional 20-million units would be either hybrid-powered or electrically driven by that year.

To tap into that future demand, he said Bosch’s automotive arm planned to form a separate business unit for electro-mobility within its newly created Powertrain Solutions Division. Development would begin next year. By then, Denner said he hoped to have decided on whether to invest in the mass production of battery cells.

According to Automotive News Europe, Bosch’s new electro-mobility unit will follow a two-track strategy. The supplier wants to boost system efficiency through measures such as integrating the transmission, power electronics and electric motor directly within a vehicle’s axle.

However, the company also aims to improve battery performance at the cell-chemistry level and is investing in both liquid and solid state cells with the ultimate goal of doubling the energy density of a battery by 2020.