Robert Bosch LLC is your one-stop shop for German-engineered auto parts, appliances, and power tools. The North American subsidiary of German giant Robert Bosch GmbH, Bosch LLC divides its operations among three divisions. Automotive Technology produces gasoline/diesel systems (and electrical drives); chassis and steering systems; and auto electronics for OEMs and the aftermarket. The Consumer Goods and Building Technology division builds various power tools, security systems, home appliances, and HVAC equipment. Automation, drive controls, solar/wind power and packaging systems are the focus of its Industrial Technology division. Operating since 1906, Bosch LLC has grown to more than 100 North American locations.
North America generates approximately 18% of its parent company's revenues, 12% of those sales are derived from the US market. Recovery from the economic crisis arrived in late 2009 and progressed throughout 2010, allowing the company to realize a 20% increase in revenues for 2010; this is some different from the 15% loss in 2009 over the previous year. The global recession forced Bosch LLC to work new muscles, and it responded by adopting a survival plan to exit low performing industries, and invest in high growth markets.
The Automotive Technology business segment is the company's largest, realizing more than 60% of annual revenues. With the rebound of the automotive industry in 2010 -- vehicle production increased almost 40% -- the company's Automotive Technology unit realized a 24% increase in sales over 2009. The improvement was attributed to a better economy, but also to the increased demand for the company's advanced vehicle technology offerings that are touted as safer, cleaner, and more economical. Through the ACCESS (Advanced Combustion Controls - Enabling Systems and Solutions) project run by the US Department of Energy, Bosch LLC was selected in 2010 to develop a turbocharged engine that will improve fuel efficiency in gasoline engines by 30%.
As Bosch focuses on the next generation of technology, it has signaled its desire to move away from the car parts business. Instead, Bosch will be turning its eye toward renewable energy, battery technology, health care (medicine and information technology), and green technologies. One of the first steps in the company's transition away from the car parts business was the 2009 sell-off of its North American brake-making business to Japan's Akebono Brake Industry (parent to US Akebono Brake Corp.). The $10 million deal marked a milestone in the auto parts and components industry's struggle to retrofit amidst the bankruptcies of General Motors, Chrysler, and Delphi. Certain of Bosch LLC's brake facilities have been pared down, affecting hundreds of jobs. In mid-2011 Bosch hired investment bank Macquarie to manage the sale of its braking systems division, once a buyer is found.
In the meantime, the desire for Bosch automotive parts is increasing. The company in 2011 opted to expand its South Carolina manufacturing plant to keep up with demand.
Being under the umbrella of Bosch Group gives the North American subsidiary a decided advantage since its parent company fosters research and development (R&D) and is networked globally through more than 350 subsidiaries. Bosch LLC has been extremely active in R&D, spending more than $5 billion in 2010 to provide technologies for its various business fields. It operates three Research and Technology Centers (California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania). During 2010 it opened the Bosch Solutions Center in California to provide training for specialists in sustainable technologies. It also has a tie-in with MIT's Energy Initiative to work on exploring energy-conversion and energy-storage systems. In addition, the company took the wheel in establishing CarLab, a Stanford interdisciplinary effort researching vehicle safety and the environment.
Bosch LLC takes a decided interest in hybrid and electric vehicle technology. It benefits from its SB LiMotive joint venture with Samsung SDI that is producing lithium-ion battery packs for the Fiat 500EV (to be launched in 2012). With key locations in Illinois, Michigan, and South Carolina, Bosch LLC made some investments in 2010, including the acquisition of RTI Technologies, a US-based automotive maintenance equipment manufacturer known for products such as air condition service (ACS) machines. Bosch LLC is poised to reap benefits from the acquisition quickly, as RTI's new ACS machines are geared to deliver R1234yf, the next generation refrigerant that will be introduced to the European market in 2011.
The company's Industrial Technology division, had a busy 2010. The division saw its revenues appreciate by as much as 33% compared to 2009. This is a sector that will be receiving more attention as the company continues its transition away from the car parts business. Along with an aptitude in factory automation and engineering, this segment is on an accelerated path to discovering newer, better sources and uses of renewable energy. To this end, the company allied with DuPont, 3M, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop these solutions. Subsidiaries Bosch Rexroth and Bosch Solar Energy are in the business of manufacturing wind turbine gearboxes, hydraulics-based solar tracking systems, solar cell making equipment, and other photovoltaic (PV) products. Also part of Industrial Technology is the Bosch Packaging Technology unit that designs and makes packaging machinery, and aftermarket parts, as well as provides service.
Last but not least, the company's Consumer Goods and Building Technology division -- portable power tools, security systems, thermotechnology, and home appliances units -- enjoyed a moderate revenue increase of 5% in 2010. This division will also garner more attention as time goes by. Bosch LLC makes power tools for use by the do-it-yourself (DIY) customer, as well as for commercial clients in the building trade and industrial markets. The company signed an alliance pact in 2010 with Perceptron, a Michigan-based optical inspection device manufacturer. Together, Bosch and Perceptron will develop a line of DIY optical inspection tools that are expected to reach retailers in 2011.
This division also makes surveillance security systems with brand names Electro-Voice, RTS, Telex, and Bosch. The company's technology in the area of intercom systems won Bosch LLC two Emmy Awards in the Technology & Engineering category in 2010. Rounding out the capabilities of the Consumer Goods and Building Technology division are thermotechnology (heating and cooling systems), health care (the Health Buddy System, which can relay a patient's health information remotely, and the ViTelCare home health monitor), and home appliances, such as refrigerators and freezers, washers and dryers, dishwashers, and ovens and cooktops. – less