Bosch Deploys Quantum Computers To Find Alternative EV Materials

Bosch and IBM are on the hunt for futuristic engineering materials, but the biggest news might be the tools they're using to find them. In a major private sector implementation of formerly experimental quantum computing, the German car-parts maker will be using more than twenty quantum computers from IBM in its search for safe, accessible alternatives to the unsustainable resources currently necessary to build electric vehicles.

As of 2021, the Gerlingen-based Robert Bosch GmbH was the EU's largest producer of automotive parts (via Statista), but at present, it is heavily reliant on importing the basic elements necessary for manufacturing. This is particularly true of electric vehicles, as more than 98% of the lithium used in batteries comes from China, according to Reuters. Rare earth elements necessary to build fuel cells are also almost exclusively imported from abroad. Bosch intends to go beyond simply digging in the ground for more of its vital materials, and the company's new quantum strategy represents a new approach to the question of sustainable engineering.

Quantum solutions to long-term problems

The problem facing Bosch is ubiquitous among sustainability-conscious manufacturers. Building complicated machines requires, for lack of a better word, stuff. What stuff doesn't really matter — as long as the supply is limited and the geopolitics are fraught, the same math applies whether we're talking water, lithium, microchips, or pistachios. When it comes to limited supply, manufacturers have historically had only two choices: find more or pay up.

The Bosch-IBM deal represents an investment in a third option. Per Bloomberg, Bosch's plan for its bleeding-edge computers isn't to find more resources or work out an economic solution to lower prices. Rather, the IBM machines will be used to simulate new conditions and possible engineering solutions. In short, rather than choosing from the usual approaches to resource scarcity — either dig more holes or pay more money — Bosch is taking a page from its EV-producing clients, using computing power to imagine a sustainable long-term alternative.