Trucks under pressure


Getting from Toronto to Texas with Bosch technology in the cargo hold – and under the hood

In the dark skies over Texas, the turban’s orange glow stands out. Normally people around here wear a cowboy hat, but Jaspreet Bola knows more about horsepower than he does about horse riding – and anyway, he prefers to stick to his own traditions. It’s eight in the morning as this young Sikh climbs out of the cab of his semi tractor-trailer. In this grey, wet weather at a truck stop outside Dallas, it’s time for a quick coffee, a soda, and a burger. He’ll be choosing the chicken and avoiding the beef – and the same goes for his copilot, Manjinder Sidhu, who has no cowboy hat either, but instead a blue and white knit cap. The Texas Longhorn cattle quietly grazing on the horizon have nothing to fear from this pair.

Jaspreet and Manjinder come from Punjab, a region in northern India, but have both lived in Canada for many years. Every week, their job as truckers sees them driving thousands of miles through North America’s varied landscapes. Day and night. One drives while the other sleeps. They almost always take the same route: from Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, to Laredo, in the far south of the United States.

There they head for the Bosch warehouse, which stretches over more than 11,000 square meters and is just a stone’s throw from the Mexican border. The pale yellow building is one of the Bosch logistics hubs for North America. Some 750,000 pallets pass through here every year, and the site handles around 100 trucks daily. “It takes no time at all,” says Jaspreet, “you just reverse up to the ramp, unload the raw materials, fill up with finished components, and an hour later you’re back on the road.”

This time, too, Jaspreet and Manjinder are transporting nuts and bolts, plastic parts, and seals made in the United States and Canada to Laredo. There, together with similar components, they are readied for onward transportation to Bosch’s Mexican plants, and generally spend no more than 24 hours in the warehouse. Heading back north, Jaspreet and Manjinder’s truck is loaded with finished products from Toluca, San Luis Potosí, and Aguascalientes: ignition coils, wiper systems, brake components, sensors, and much more – most of them destined for the big automakers in and around Detroit.

Knit caps and turbans in cowboy-hat country: the two truckers Jaspreet Bola and ...

... Manjinder Sidhu.

Jaspreet Bola cleans his headlights during a stop in Missouri.


“Every liter less helps.”
Jaspreet Bola

But these two truckers don’t just have Bosch technology in their cargo hold. It’s also under the hood of their Freightliner Cascadia Evolution. The truck is powered by a Detroit DD15 engine with six cylinders, around 500 HP, almost 15 liters displacement – and the highly efficient Bosch CRSN4 common-rail injection system. The high-pressure pump and rail come from the Jihlava plant in the Czech Republic, while the extremely precise injector is manufactured in Homburg, Germany. “The Freightliner has plenty of power, uses less fuel than other trucks, and is nice and quiet,” Manjinder says.

The pump provides system pressure of up to 1,200 bar, while the injector features an integrated hydraulic pressure amplifier that can more than double the maximum injection pressure. As a result, the engine is economical, and efficient – and provides power whenever it is needed. And this not only in the Cascadia, but also in millions of commercial vehicles in North America and the rest of the world.

But back on the soaking wet parking lot in Texas, thoughts such as this are not the issue. Jaspreet and Manjinder prefer to spend their time working out how long it will take them to reach Laredo – and above all whether they will manage to get back to Toronto in time for Diwali, the Indian festival of light. They’ve already put around two-thirds of the journey behind them. “We reckon on roughly 34 hours each way,” Manjinder says. There are rarely any traffic jams, they fill up just once, and the mandatory rest periods aren’t too long when there are two drivers.

They know the route like the back of their hands: 2,948 kilometers through the southern tip of Canada, crossing into the U.S. near Detroit, then across the industrial heartlands of Michigan and Ohio, straight through the fields and forests of Indiana and Illinois, and over the Mississippi to Missouri. And when the sky gets bigger and the light changes, and when it’s banjos and not guitars on the radio, that’s when they’ve arrived in the South: welcome to Texas. Now Canada is a long way away.

American powertrain


The Freightliner’s diesel engine features Bosch injection technology. The CRSN4 common-rail system ensures optimum performance, low fuel consumption, and reduced emissions.

Heavily automated


At some point, heavy-duty trucks will also be largely automated and connected. The steering system will play a major part in achieving this. Robert Bosch Automotive Steering GmbH, the world’s biggest manufacturer of power steering systems, already offers Servotwin®, the first integrated electro-hydraulic steering system for heavy-duty trucks (not installed in the truck presented in this article). This steering system allows precise steering actions at high speeds as well as comfortable truck maneuvering at low speeds. As Servotwin is developed further, it will bring to trucks many of the assistance systems that have already proved so valuable in cars. These include corrective steering interventions should the vehicle unintentionally leave its lane and a traffic jam assistant that relieves drivers of a lot of stress. It can also support an assistance function that determines how much steering has to be corrected to counter a sudden gust of wind, and actuates an electric motor to help with the maneuver.

Tomorrow’s cockpit

Reducing the burden on drivers, protecting the environment

Digital exterior mirror

Lower fuel consumption – the large-surface exterior mirror that increases drag is a thing of the past. On top of that, drivers have a much better view of what’s happening to the rear, even at night.

Freely programmable instrument cluster

The days of fixed mechanical instrument clusters are over. Today’s displays can be adapted to the traffic situation and to the requirements of drivers and automakers. The extremely high-resolution display allows information to be presented more accurately.

Display Unit

The display unit is the central user interface for navigation and entertainment. Drivers can connect it directly with their smartphones, and in this way safely operate many apps on their truck’s touchscreen. The display’s design and interface dynamically adapt to the driving situation.

Doesn’t it get boring? Always taking the same highways and stopping at the same gas stations? Jaspreet laughs. “It depends on whether there’s something to look forward to,” he says. For him there is: he dreams of having a small house in the suburbs of Toronto and of marrying his girlfriend. That’s what he’s saving up for, regularly putting a little money aside.

He and Manjinder are two of a great many truckers with Indian roots who drive for Canadian logistics companies. “People consider us Sikhs honest and reliable,” says Kashmir Singh, one of Jaspreet and Manjinder’s fellow truckers. Kashmir has been driving all over North America for many years and has already been to all 48 contiguous U.S. states. Like the other two, he now works for himself, driving his own truck, despite the Giggs Express logo on its side. Giggs Express is the company that sent the three drivers on their current journeys. Independent drivers are paid by the mile, which means they are directly affected by the price of diesel. Each time the price goes up, Jaspreet’s house in the suburbs recedes another few months into the future.  

What the drivers need, therefore, is more economical engines. That’s why Jaspreet’s brother – who owns the truck – opted for the Freightliner. Not only does it feature state-of-the-art Bosch diesel technology, it also has Eco.Logic motion, the smart assistance system provided by Bosch’s Car Multimedia division. This system makes use of a digital map and knows long before the driver does whether the road is going uphill or downhill, and whether to expect a bend or a long stretch of straight road. Because the system also detects the current speed and the selected gear, it can work with the automatic transmission to accelerate in advance or avoid unnecessary gearshifts – without the driver having to do anything.

Eco.Logic motion can potentially reduce fuel consumption by 5 percent. “Every liter less helps,” Jaspreet says, filling up for a few hundred dollars somewhere in deepest Missouri. All the drivers agree that diesel will remain the most important powertrain in the logistics business for the foreseeable future. That makes it all the more important to further improve internal-combustion engines and make them cleaner, more efficient, and more cost-effective. Bosch is working hard on this – so Kashmir, Manjinder, and millions of other truckers don’t have to fill up so often. To reduce environmental impact. And to help Jaspreet’s dream of a wedding and a house come true that little bit sooner...