Bosch Starts Volume Production of Its Fuel Cell Drive System

Author photo: Fabian Wanke
By Fabian Wanke
Company and Product News

Bosch announced the start of series production of its new fuel cell drive system in Stuttgart-Feuerbach, Germany. The pilot customer is the US company Nikola, which plans to launch a new fuel-cell electric truck in North America in the third quarter of 2023. Bosch is active along the entire H2 value chain, developing technologies for production and applications. In 2030, Bosch aims to generate sales of around five billion euros with hydrogen technologies.

In its solutions for the hydrogen economy, Bosch relies on a global manufacturing network and the efficiency of its German sites. The Bosch plant in Bamberg, for example, supplies the fuel cell stack for the Feuerbach production facility. Important system components, such as the electric air compressor or the recirculation blower, come from the Homburg plant. Production is also getting underway for the fuel cell drive system in Chongqing, China, for which the necessary components are coming from the plant in Wuxi.  Bosch also plans to manufacture stacks for mobile applications at its US plant in Anderson, South Carolina. The company expects that by 2030, one in five new commercial vehicles weighing six tons or more worldwide will be powered by a fuel cell.

Bosch is convinced that hydrogen is the only way to achieve a climate-neutral world. Accordingly, the company is strongly committed to building an H2 economy and is once again expanding its investments in hydrogen. In total, Bosch will have invested 2.5 billion euros in the development and production of its H2 technologies by 2026. This is a billion euros more than the investment plan had initially envisioned for the period 2021-2024. The company already employs more than 3,000 people in hydrogen technologies, more than half of them in Europe.

In early 2023, Bosch began prototype construction for the electrolysis process with proton exchange membranes - the reverse of the energy conversion that takes place in mobile fuel cells. Starting in the fall, the company plans to make 1.25-megawatt functional prototypes available for pilot applications and is on track for a production start in 2025.

Bosch is on several paths for the use of H2. The area of application for stationary fuel cells based on solid oxide technology is decentralized energy supply with electricity and heat. In a pilot project at the Erkelenz hospital near Cologne, Bosch is aiming to achieve an overall efficiency of 90 percent with its technology.

In addition to the fuel cell drive, Bosch is working on a hydrogen engine and is developing both an intake manifold and a direct injection of H2 for this purpose. This solution is particularly suitable for heavy vehicles that are on the road for long periods with especially heavy loads. According to the company, the H2 engine can do everything that diesel can do, but in a CO2-neutral way, and it enables a quick and cost-effective entry into mobile hydrogen use. A major advantage is that more than 90 percent of existing development and production technologies can be used for this purpose. The H2 engine is expected to launch in 2024. Bosch already has four series-production projects in all parts of the Triad and expects six-figure unit sales by 2030.


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