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Bosch, Research Partners Awarded Department of Energy Funding To Develop Next-Generation Flex-Fuel Vehicle

Farmington Hills, Mich. – Robert Bosch LLC announced today that it has been awarded funding by the Department of Energy (DOE) as a part of eleven research and development projects to improve the efficiency of light-duty vehicle engines. Bosch will collaborate with Ricardo, Inc. and the University of Michigan for the development of an optimized flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) in this effort. Bosch and its research partners will take a benchmark gasoline-optimized engine with direct injection and turbo charging, and combine hardware modifications with novel sensing and control strategies to build a FFV. The target FFV will be capable of running on any blend of ethanol, up to E-85, with fuel economy close to a conventional gasoline-fueled vehicle, and will meet United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV) regulations. The DOE award of approximately $1.5 million extends over the three-year project.

“As the global energy sector, which heavily relies on fossil fuels, remains volatile due to security reasons and availability of resources, industries and governments are focusing on alternative energy sources to support our rapidly increasing energy needs,” said the principle investigator of the project, Hakan Yilmaz, Manager of System and Advanced Engineering, Gasoline Systems, Robert Bosch LLC.

Sujit Jain, Senior Vice President Powertrain, Gasoline and Transmission Systems, Robert Bosch LLC said “ethanol-based fuels are a reliable and renewable energy source that are especially well-suited for the transportation industry. With Bosch’s global expertise in gasoline, ethanol combustion and flexible fuel technologies, we will focus on the U.S. market needs and trends while researching technological advancements to exploit the benefits of ethanol as a fuel.”

The United States Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, through its FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program, sponsors research intended to strengthen America’s energy security, environmental quality and economic vitality through public-private partnerships. Funding for the Bosch, Ricardo and University of Michigan research program is being provided by the DOE and was chosen through a highly competitive review process of research proposals.

Ricardo will tap its expertise in engine design and engineering services to supplement the research and technology aspects of the FFV program.

“The need to address issues of energy security and climate change through more efficient use of fossil fuels combined with the exploitation of sources of renewable energy is one of the greatest imperatives of our time at both a national and global level,” said Dean Harlow, president, Ricardo, Inc. “Ricardo is pleased to be a part of this important research program, which aims to pave the way for the next generation of flex-fuel vehicles.”

Together with Bosch, the University of Michigan will develop the methodology needed to swiftly estimate the ethanol content of a gasoline-ethanol fuel blend and optimize the engine combustion for the detected fuel blend by adjusting all the critical degrees of freedom available in the engine control unit. The estimation and control development is based on models, and is augmented with feedback laws that ensure robustness to environmental uncertainties, engine component aging and rapid calibration.

"The overall goal is to develop flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on any blend of ethanol -- from zero to 85 percent -- with minimal or no penalty in usable vehicle range," said University of Michigan mechanical engineering professor Anna Stefanopoulou. "This effort will provide the basis for the technological leap required to make flex-fuel vehicles more practical and efficient."

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. In the areas of automotive and industrial technology, consumer goods, and building technology, some 260,000 associates generated sales of 43.7 billion euros in fiscal 2006. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 300 subsidiary and regional companies in over 50 countries. This worldwide development, manufacturing, and sales network is the foundation for further growth. Bosch spends more than three billion euros each year for research and development, and in 2006 applied for over 3,000 patents worldwide. The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.”

The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

In North America, the Bosch Group manufactures and markets automotive original equipment and aftermarket products, industrial automation and mobile products, power tools and accessories, security technology, thermo-technology, packaging equipment and household appliances. Bosch employs 24,750 associates in more than 80 primary and 20 associated facilities throughout the region with reported sales of $8.8 billion in 2006. For more information on the company, visit www.bosch.us.

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DOE Award Release - August 2007

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