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Company : Motor Industries Co. Ltd. 
Friday, February 1, 2002 6:30PM IST (1:00PM GMT)
Bosch celebrates 100 years of powering automobiles
Bangalore, Karnataka, India

It is now almost a hundred years since Bosch presented the first Spark plug combined with a high-tension magneto ignition system. On January 7, 1902, the company was awarded a patent for this ground-breaking development. The reliable Bosch ignition system solved what Carl Benz saw as the main problem of the early automotive technology. Together with improvements in production technology, it was the spark plug that laid the foundations for the rapid increase in automobile production over the decades that followed. As a result, the time came when everyone could afford a car.

Nowadays, the Bosch spark plug, which has been developed and improved continuously over the decades, is a major system component which plays a key role in fuel economy, clean and efficient combustion and the reliable operation of engines and catalytic converters. Despite the tremendous increase in spark plug performance, the useful life of a spark plug is now about 20,000 to 30,000 km, some 20 to 30 times higher than the figure 90 years ago. Some special spark plugs even have a service life of 100,000 km.

During their lifetime, such spark plugs produce excessively more than 20 million sparks, standard plugs, having a lifetime of 20,000 kilometers, approximately four million sparks. This takes place at a rotational engine speed of approximately 4,000 revolutions per minute. By every ignition the spark plug is exposed to extreme load, since under the extraordinary conditions in the engine's combustion chamber, the temperature rises in a split second from 100 to 1,000 °Celsius. Due to the explosive fuel combustion, the spark plug is repeatedly exposed to a flash-like pressure of up to 100 bars.

Moreover, it has to be capable of resisting the chemically highly aggressive mixture of gasoline vapors, combustion gas as well as residues of gasoline and oil. Despite the extreme load, the spark plug has to ignite properly at any time.

More than 1,250 variants of the spark generators in 26 different designs of the electrode are presently included in the Bosch product range, from those designed for lawn mowers and having the short length of a match up to those having the length of a pencil which are designed for stationary gas engines. Plenty of modern engines call for their own tailor-made spark-plugs. To find out which type of the Bosch spark plug to use for your car, your lawnmower, power saw or boat engine, all you need to do is go to the www.bosch.com web site.

Over a period of 100 years, Bosch has developed considerably more than 20 000 types. No wonder that in the United States there is even an association of spark plug collectors consisting of more than 1,000 members. However, this subject had been so comprehensive in the 1930ies already that Bosch published a spark plug dictionary comprising 160 pages.

In the first year of production Bosch produced some few spark plugs per day, nowadays, one million pieces are produced per day in the company's plant in Bamberg alone, consisting of 29 tons of steel, 1.8 tons of nickel, 0.7 tons of copper, 15 kilometers of nickel wire and 2.5 kilograms of platinum for the plug housing and the electrodes as well as 20 tons of aluminum oxide for the white insulation elements.

Apart from the Bamberg plant, production sites supplying to local markets and automotive manufacturers are located in India, Brazil, China and Russia where spark plugs are produced according to the internationally applied Bosch quality standards. On an international scale, Bosch produces more than 350 million units per year. In hundred years a total of excessively more than seven billion spark plugs have been produced. Laid end to end, they would stretch more than 350,000 kilometers - all the way to the moon.

MICO, in India, has been the Bosch Group company since 1951. The manufacture of Spark Plugs started in the MICO factory at Bangalore in 1954. MICO's Spark Plugs are also exported to many countries in the world and the quality of there here in India or in Germany has absolutely no difference.


1902: Bosch is granted a patent for a new type of spark plug combined with a high-tension magneto on January 7, 1902. The first systems are supplied to Daimler-Motorengesellschaft in Bad Cannstatt on September 24, 1902

1902 onwards: In the first few years, production totals a few hundred units per year

1914: The first spark plug factory is founded in Stuttgart.

1927: Bosch introduces the term "heat range", which has remained the standard measure of the thermal capacity of a spark plug (important for the ideal adaptation of a spark plug to a specific engine) to this day.

1939: The Bamberg spark plug factory is founded.

1953: Bosch spark plug with composite center electrode ensuring reliable cold starting and a longer service life is used on the Mercedes Benz 300 SL gull-wing

1968: The Bamberg plant produces the billionth spark plug.

1976: Mass production of the Thermoelastic plug with composite center electrode starts.

1980s: Spark plugs are adapted to changes in fuels and engine design, making motors cleaner, more economical and more efficient (lead-free petrol, catalytic converters, four valves per cylinder, lean mix, etc.).

1983: Platinum center electrodes and composite materials with noble metal alloys boost the service life of spark plugs to well in excess of 60,000 km.

1991: The Bosch air cushion spark plug prevents carbon fouling, timing drift and misfiring even in operation with frequent short trips.

1995: Nickel yttrium electrode material prolongs the service life of spark plugs

2000: The seven billionth Bosch spark plug is produced.
Supply of tailor-made spark plugs for the first direct injection stratified charge gasoline engine (with ignition and injection system also supplied by Bosch).

7 January 2002: 100th anniversary of the first Bosch spark plug.


Annual Bosch spark plug production: More than 350 million (1902: about 300)

Material required for daily production of more than a million spark plugs:
29 t of steel, 1.8 t of nickel, 0.7 t of copper, 15 km of nickel wire, 2.5 kg of platinum and 20 t of aluminum oxide for insulators

Total production since 1902: More than 7.5 billion Bosch spark plugs

Bosch spark plug types currently available: 1250 with 26 different electrode designs

Bosch spark plug types produced since 1902: More than 20,000

Smallest Bosch spark plug: 40 mm long (e.g. for lawnmowers)

Largest Bosch spark plug : 150 mm long (e.g. for stationary gas engines)

Performance of a standard Bosch spark plug: Up to 30 sparks per second or more than 20 million sparks over a useful life of 20,000 km

Working conditions of Bosch spark plugs: Voltage up to 30,000 V, temperatures up to 1,000 ºC, pressures up to 100 bar (equivalent to the pressure underwater at a depth of 1,000 m); hot, extremely aggressive mixture of petrol vapor, combustion products and fuel and oil residues

Service life of Bosch spark plugs: standard plugs 20,000 to 30,000 km, special plugs up to 100,000 km

Bosch spark plug production plants: Bamberg (Germany), Aratú (Brazil), Engels (Russia), Naganathapura (India) and Nanjing (China)

Vehicle producers with Bosch park plugs as original equipment: Audi, BMW, Citroën, Daewoo, DAF, Fiat, Lancia, Daimler-Chrysler, Holden, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Nedcar, Opel, Peugeot, Piaggio (scooters), Porsche, Renault, Rotax (small engines), Seat, Skoda, Ssang Yong, Suzuki, Toyota, Vauxhall, Volvo, VW

Applications of Bosch spark plugs: Cars, Motorcycles and Scooters, Commercial Vehicles, Engines for Boats and Jet-Skis, Gardening and Forestry Equipment, Stationary Gas Engines, Emergency Generator Sets, Water Pumps and Small Engines

Media Contact Details
Mr. C.S. Madhumanjunatha, Motor Industries Co. Ltd., +91 (080) 2992219/2992217, madhu.manjunatha@in.bosch.com
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It's all in a spark: 100th anniversary of the Bosch spark plug