Former Bosch Division Looks for Own Success as SEG

John Sommers II for Transport Topics

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— The former division of the Bosch Group that since 1914 made starters and generators is now on its own as SEG Automotive and has added an electrification component to its mix of products.

In January, Bosch sold the division — which generated $2 billion in revenue in 2017 — to Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery Group Co. for a reported $595 million.

SEG had a booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show to build awareness of its new name, Ulrich Muehleisen, head of marketing and business strategy for SEG Automotive North America, told Transport Topics.

Muehleisen by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

“We had meetings with several truck makers here,” including Paccar Inc., which has renewed its relationship with the former Bosch unit, Muehleisen said.

Paccar is the parent company of Kenworth Truck Co. and Peterbilt Motors Co. for the North American market as well as DAF Trucks in Europe.

The commercial vehicle sector accounts for 25% of SEG’s market. “But heavy-duty is a very important business of our company. We are actually the heavy-duty leader globally with our [starter motor and generator] products,” Muehleisen said.

“Our overarching goal is reducing fuel consumption in today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles regardless if it’s a passenger car, a light truck or a Class 8 truck,” he said.

SEG — whose name reflects its focus on stater motors, electrification and generators — last year developed a boost recuperation machine (BRM) intended to hybridize gasoline and diesel engines to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by up to 15%.

The BRM transforms a conventional powertrain, with minor modifications to the engine and the wiring, into a hybrid drive and replaces the alternator in its assembly space, according to the company.

“This product does two-thirds of what a full hybrid system can do, but for a fraction of the cost. We also see a big future for 48-volt systems in the U.S.,” he said.

The market for the BRM has picked up in China and Europe a lot, he said.

“At some point the heavy-duty market will also pick up on start-stop systems,” which temporarily shut off the engine when a vehicle is waiting at a stoplight, for instance, Muehleisen said.

While part of Bosch, the new company created stop-start technology in 2007.

There are advanced stop-start technologies coming that will even shut the engine down at several different speeds, he said, to reduce fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide.

With talk of a U.S. trade war with China growing and sanctions in place on imports of Chinese steel and aluminum, Muehleisen said those would not be factors as SEG works to increase its North American market share.

“I don’t think this is going to hurt our relationships with our customers. Our headquarters is in Germany and we operate totally independently.”

SEG’s North American locations are in Novi, Mich., and Lerma, Mexico. It is based in Stuttgart, Germany.


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