As Chip Scarcity Winds Down, Bosch Lays Gasoline Cell Plans In USA

Regardless of the lingering semiconductor chip scarcity, the US manufacturing sector is within the early phases of a history-making growth, and A-list world firms are taking discover. That features Germany’s Bosch, which is hammering down stakes in each the US chip business in addition to the inexperienced hydrogen and gas enterprise. Wait — gas cells?

What Chip Scarcity?

Whether or not or not the worldwide chip scarcity nonetheless persists will depend on who you’re speaking to, and how much chips you want.

The COVID-19 pandemic is broadly cited because the proximate reason for the chip scarcity that fell upon the auto business like a moist blanket in 2020 and the next years. Pure disasters, transport disruptions, Russia’s murderous rampage into Ukraine, and different episodic parts additionally factored in (see CleanTechnica’s protection right here).

A few of these impacts proceed to linger, however the image has modified dramatically. J.P. Morgan is amongst these seeing the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel. “The chip scarcity is all however over,” the agency wrote optimistically on April 18, citing a brand new evaluation from its J.P. Morgan Analysis department.

“In truth, there could even be oversupply within the quick time period, although wanting additional forward, some shortages might linger as sure sorts of chips stay extra in demand than others,” the agency added.

Extra Chip Scarcity Woes For The Auto Trade, Or Not

You may say that once more, particularly the half about lingering shortages — “some shortages might linger as sure sorts of chips stay extra in demand,” together with chips made for the auto business. The trendy automobile is principally a big, rolling digital system festooned with semiconductors similar to every other piece of contemporary electrified {hardware}, besides that the chips utilized in auto manufacturing should not the identical as those in your new toaster oven.

“On the peak of the chip scarcity, world auto manufacturing slumped 26% through the first 9 months of 2021,” J.P. Morgan notes. If one other chip scarcity does happen, it isn’t prone to spark off a response of that magnitude. Nevertheless, the drip-drip-drip of an inadequate provide might decelerate the tempo of car electrification.

Our mates over at Electronics Sourcing cite an estimate of roughly 1,000+ chips for a standard automobile and twice that many chips for an electrical automobile, to run every part from security options to gamer-friendly gentle and sound options.

“Automotive-grade chips should keep performance and reliability in additional excessive situations than their client counterparts. Temperature ranges in a automobile are increased, lifecycles are longer, and have low failure charges. All a should to move the automotive requirements for chips,” Electronics Sourcing explains.

Bosch Does Battle With US Chip Scarcity

Into this combine steps Bosch. The corporate has roots within the nineteenth century and burnished its twentieth century repute on high-quality client home equipment and hand-held energy instruments whereas working its manner as much as changing into the biggest automotive provider on the planet that you’ve by no means heard of, at the least not right here within the US.

Bosch made some current forays into photo voltaic and battery know-how that ran aground, however its different Twenty first-century endeavors have cemented its position within the Web-enabled industries of the long run. Assuaging the chip scarcity, and ensuring it doesn’t occur once more, is a key a part of the corporate’s general plan.

The US manufacturing growth has set the stage for Bosch to increase its stateside footprint. CleanTechnica took observe earlier this yr when Bosch introduced that it’s buying the US chipmaker TSI Semiconductors, which makes 200-millimeter wafers and counts automotive chips amongst its areas of experience. (See extra Bosch protection right here.)

I additionally had an opportunity to preview a model of the US operation in individual earlier this month, throughout a go to to the corporate’s chip manufacturing facility in Reutlingen as a part of CleanTechnica’s journey to Germany. It was an eye-opener by way of the scope of the sources have to help the decarbonized, electrified vehicles of the long run, together with:

  • A whole lot of staff and contractors commuting on three 2/7 shifts.
  • Laundry and disposables for everybody on web site, together with shoe coverings and T-shirt/jogging pants, uniforms for basic put on, and full gear for the clear room: masks, gloves, hood, overalls, and boots.
  • Huge local weather and air management programs and different help programs taking on a lot of the ground house within the constructing.

The go to additionally offered some insights into the automated chip manufacturing facility of the long run. The acquisition and maintenance of automation tools provides one more provide chain layer onto an already complicated operation.

A part of the problem is to match the obtainable automation tools with the objects demanded by the market. At Reutlingen, for instance, Bosch developed a hybrid strategy that deploys every part from superior robotics down at hand carts to perform lots of of steps over a interval that stretches into months (a typical chip can take as much as 4 months from design to completion).

Our hosts additionally famous that matching the obtainable brainpower with chip manufacturing might be one other problem, one they hope to get forward of by leveraging the consultants at TSI.

It’s Gasoline Cells & Inexperienced Hydrogen For Bosch

Bosch raised eyebrows again in 2018 when it pulled again from its plans to mass produce solid-state batteries by its acquisition of the startup Seeo. Extra just lately, the corporate additionally shelved a three way partnership with Volkswagen to fabricate batteries in Europe.

That doesn’t imply Bosch has given up on automobile electrification, although. Right here within the US, the corporate is specializing in hydrogen gas cells for heavy obligation vehicles, to be manufactured at its facility in South Carolina.

The US electrical truck startup Nikola has first dibs on the Bosch gas cells, which underscores the rising position of inexperienced hydrogen within the transportation business. Nikola launched its plans for zero-emission gas cell mobility in 2014 when the worldwide hydrogen market relied virtually solely on fossil vitality sources. Fossil vitality nonetheless dominates, however Nikola is among the many stakeholders laying plans to push the marketplace for inexperienced hydrogen, sourced by making use of electrolysis programs to water.

That dovetails neatly with Bosch’s plans to step up its electrolysis enterprise. The corporate already has a head begin by its expertise in water purification, and earlier this month it introduced a brand new electrolysis system with a watch on distant and offshore hydrogen manufacturing.

The Gasoline Cell Truck Answer

In a one-on-one interview with me, Thomas Pauer, president of Powertrain Options, indicated that inexperienced hydrogen is a necessary a part of Bosch’s gas cell plans, not an afterthought.

Pauer famous that the TCO (complete value of possession, together with gas, resale, and many others.) for inexperienced hydrogen gas cell vehicles has to come back right down to compete with diesel. He put the aggressive value for inexperienced hydrogen gas within the vary of $3–4 US {dollars} per kilogram in comparison with its present value of about $9 per kilogram now.

“It’s undoubtedly doable. It’s a clear pattern and we are able to obtain it early within the US,” he stated. “The Inflation Discount Act helps hydrogen, so the US is prone to attain $3–4 per kilogram sooner. It’s the scaling impact.”

The Inflation Discount Act actually has flipped the swap. It got here up many instances through the go to to Germany. Along with establishing a pleasant setting for cleantech traders within the US, the IRA set a excessive bar for Europe to observe.

That features a vital affect on the price of inexperienced hydrogen. S&P World is among the many companies wanting on the potential for the IRA to zero out the price of inexperienced hydrogen by 2030. Although, something goes after its provisions elevate.

As for the remainder of the world, Pauer took observe of the ever-growing shade chart that identifies completely different hydrogen sources, together with pure fuel with carbon seize. He characterised them as bridge fuels that may finally dry up, leaving the sphere to inexperienced hydrogen.

“The choice for inexperienced hydrogen may be very clear,” he stated. “Research present that inexperienced hydrogen can be cheaper … there can be no extra colours besides inexperienced.”

Discover me on Threads @tinamcasey. Additionally Submit @tinamcasey, or @TinaMCasey on LinkedIn and Spoutible, or @Casey on Mastadon, or Twitter (for now) @tinamcasey.

Photograph (courtesy of Bosch): CleanTechnica suited as much as go to the clear room at Bosch’s chip manufacturing facility in Reitlingen, Germany to get the within scoop on the chip scarcity and its options. Search for me within the entrance row and please observe that CleanTechnica was a visitor of Bosch on this journey.


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