Bosch creates single unit to oversee software, systems development

FILE PHOTO: Werner Struth, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, watches a video during a Bosch news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

(Reuters) - Germany’s Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s largest auto parts supplier, said on Tuesday it is consolidating its software and electronics expertise in a single division, in order to get new digitalized vehicle functions on the road significantly faster.

Bosch is the latest large automotive company to shift its emphasis from hardware to software as vehicles continue their transformation into mobile devices that combine transportation with digital services from e-commerce to infotainment — a trend driven heavily by electric car maker Tesla Inc TSLA.O.

Starting in early 2021, Bosch will draw together parts of its automotive electronics, chassis and powertrain divisions and combine them with its car multimedia division, with 17,000 employees in more than 20 countries.

"Supplying software from a single source is our response to the enormous challenge of making cars ever more digitalized," said Bosch board member Harald Kroeger, a former Daimler AG DAIGn.DE executive and onetime Tesla board member who is spearheading the new division.

Bosch is joining a move by automakers such as Tesla, Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE and General Motors Co GM.N and large suppliers such as Aptiv PLC APTV.N to consolidate many of the vehicle’s functions into a single digital “architecture.” Similar to what Tesla has been doing for more than five year, the consolidated system will oversee computers, control units and sensors, and can be more easily and quickly revised through wireless over-the-air updates.

Bosch said centralized computers and software in the vehicle will link such functions as automated driving, advanced driver assistance, digital dashboards and Internet connectivity.

Bosch supplies key components to many of the world’s automakers, from Tesla to Daimler.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit and Edward Taylor in Frankfurt; Editing by Marguerita Choy