Why: How long do you believe the global semiconductor shortage will last?
A: You can’t solve it this year. It’s impossible. It will be better at the end of this year than now, but it may not be completely resolved until then. Next year will be another important step as the economy in general will change which will affect the demand side of the question. And then hopefully, at the end of next year, we’ll have a very clear view of how to move forward with demand growth.
As Bosch invests billions of euros in its semiconductor business, does it plan to supply more chips to other companies, including supplier competitors?
Most of the investment has been made to meet our own demand. But in some areas, we do sell semiconductors directly – notably in the area of micro-electromechanical sensors. We are a big player in the MEMS market, and this goes into not only automotive but consumer electronics at a wider scale. We invest in MEMS as it has huge potential not only for automotive but also for consumers. Still, for most semiconductors, we buy . Others produce for us. It varies by section.
Bosch is also investing heavily in hydrogen fuel cell technology, even though it is a relatively niche product. When do you see those investments paying off?
With electrification, we have seen a big step up as more and more car manufacturers engage in creating platforms for it. But then came the question: “Okay, you have an electrified drivetrain, but when you get into heavy trucks, how’s that going to work? How many tons should the battery weigh?”
More and more, you were clearly seeing manufacturers launching initiatives on hydrogen as it is the path to becoming CO2 free for heavy, long-haul trucks. So we started on the fuel cell system.
We saw that there were a whole bunch of components attached to it – not just the stack and the system, but some technically challenging components as well. And we love stuff like that. That’s what we are good at.
Your question is about speed. We will see. On hydrogen, we know you’ll see a lot more vehicles with it, but the question is, what part is it going to reach and how fast will it get there? This is still an open question. But I think since it is a CO2 free technology, it will be used. I’m a big fan of any CO2 free technology.
As Bosch adapts to emerging technologies, how different will the company look in the future?
In 15-20 years, it will be a different company, for sure. There will be different product ranges, and new engine technologies far down the road. There will be more software engineers. Each vehicle would have more computational power, so would a lot more software. And that means completely different setups of teams and collaboration models.
We’ll probably have other partnerships on top of that. We will be working with more semiconductor companies and more with software companies and platform companies. Our partnership system will probably explode.
And we’ll probably have to play more locally. We will have a strong local footprint in the United States, in China, in Europe, and will also be able to serve customers in these different regions as they are going to have different demands.