A partnership that saves lives: ten years of Bosch eCall for vehicles of the Mercedes-Benz AG
Ten years ago, Bosch Service Solutions and Mercedes-Benz launched a special partnership: in June 2012, Bosch eCall was built into vehicles from the German premium car manufacturer for the first time.
Initially offered in nine countries and six languages, the service is now available in over 50 countries and more than 20 languages. In case of an accident, drivers and passengers in more than ten million vehicles from the Stuttgart-based car manufacturer can rely on the integrated eCall service from Bosch as a genuinely life-saving service.
Over the past ten years, Bosch emergency call centers have fielded around 3.8 million calls from this service alone. If necessary, the relevant emergency data is sent directly from there to the responsible rescue control centers, setting the rescue chain in motion. Because speed counts in the event of an accident. - The success story that connects the premium car manufacturer and Bosch eCall continues to this day: both partners are currently working together on modern technological solutions that will make eCall more powerful and even faster.
Bosch develops its eCall service
The partnership was preceded by an initial cell phone-based emergency call service that the car manufacturer launched back in the late 1990s. This service, known as TELEAID, was already supported by Bosch Service Solutions as a partner. Except in the USA, the time did not yet seem right for an in-car emergency call service: cell phones in cars were still a rarity in many countries, for example, and telephone charges were high. As a result, the service only gained long-term traction in the USA. It was discontinued after a few years in other markets, such as Germany. Overall, user numbers were still small. However, conditions changed in the early 2010s: technology developed rapidly and became more affordable, and the cost of mobile communications fell. Mobile phone use experienced an unprecedented boom as smartphone technology became established.
Against this background, the premium car manufacturer planned to launch a completely new emergency call system. The aim was to establish an international eCall service that could successfully compete in the mass market. Bosch Service Solutions was seen as a partner with many years of experience in alarm and emergency call management: building on this expertise, the service provider established an international network of service centers, including an extensive IT infrastructure. This included partner networks with connections to monitoring centers, fire departments, and hospitals in the relevant countries which are still in operation today.
How Bosch eCall works
An international approach right from the start
The emergency call service went live in June 2012 - at first still as combination of the on-board computer and driver's cell phone: the technology built into the car detected the accident, and the driver's cell phone initiated the voice call to the emergency call center. Bosch eCall was initially launched in nine European countries and six languages: In addition to Germany, the service was also available in France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The vehicle's occupants could communicate in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch during an emergency call.
The system proved popular with drivers and quickly established itself. Moreover, as the technical components became more affordable, the premium car manufacturer installed corresponding radio modules as standard in new vehicles starting in 2014. With the help of an integrated SIM card, the car's on-board computer could now make life-saving emergency calls all on its own. A cell phone was no longer necessary. Gradually, all Mercedes-Benz models were fitted with Bosch eCall.
International growth, greater language diversity
Year after year, Bosch extended its eCall service to embrace more countries. In 2013, several European countries were added, as well as Brazil and Mexico. The following year, Bosch eCall was launched in Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia. In 2015, the existing emergency call service in the USA and Canada was moved to the new system - with Bosch as the partner for the underlying service. In 2016, Bosch eCall went live in China, followed by Japan and South Korea in 2017.
The increasing internationalization was also reflected in the diverse range of languages: Portuguese, Polish, Czech and Swedish were added to the languages initially available. For services outside the European continent, Bosch expanded its offering to include Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Arabic. More than 20 languages and a cross-border service mean greater speed and precision in the provision of information for drivers and the rescue chain: if the appropriate language is set in the on-board computer, drivers are automatically addressed in their own language, even when abroad. Receiving communications in German during a traffic accident while on vacation in Spain, for example, can be of great psychological value, as well as ensuring that accident details are recorded correctly. While the emergency call will be answered in the language of the vehicle occupants, in many countries the transfer of information to the rescue control center occurs in the local language.
From around 80,000 to ten million networked vehicles
Continuous further development has brought Bosch eCall within reach for more and more Mercedes-Benz drivers. The number of cars fitted with the technology grew from around 80,000 in 2012 to around 240,000 the following year. In 2014, the number of equipped cars approached half a million. The one million connected vehicles mark was passed in 2015 and five million in 2018. Today, more than ten million Mercedes-Benz vehicles worldwide have Bosch eCall. As the number of connected vehicles grows, so does the number of people who can rely on this life-saving service in an emergency.
This growth is also reflected in the number of incoming eCalls: from around four and a half thousand incoming eCalls in 2012, the number had already increased to over 20,000 emergency calls the following year reaching almost 100,000 incoming eCalls in 2016. This number rose to around 800,000 in 2019 and in 2021, Bosch passed the one million mark.
Overcoming hurdles together
In their ten years of close cooperation, the two partners have also overcome numerous challenges. One of them was to integrate the Indian market. In 2019, India was the second largest country in the world by population, numbering more than 1.3 billion, and the seventh largest in terms of geographic area. A nationwide service around the clock, 365 days a year, required a comprehensive infrastructure. Bosch Service Solutions therefore established an extensive partner network with appropriate contacts to Public Safety Answering Points (known as PSAPs), which provide access to over 13,500 hospitals and police stations. Bosch also set up two completely new data & operations centers dedicated to the service in Bangalore and Coimbatore in 2019.
Ready for the future of eCall
Bosch is working on new solutions and is continuously developing modern technologies. In the USA, for example, the company has already launched "Next Generation eCall". This involves transmitting accident data from the car to Bosch emergency call centers using modern LTE networks. "Transmission via LTE offers very high speed and excellent voice quality. Both help us to make life-saving service even more effective," explains Marcel Reissmann, Product Manager at Bosch Service Solutions. "From driving technological innovations to opening up new countries, we're proud to be able to continue this success story alongside the Mercedes-Benz AG into the future."