Marginal Column

Bosch lambda sensors: The exhaust gas supervisor turns 40, 1 billion lambda sensors produced in four decades

  • In 1976, Volvo first launched a car with a lambda sensor as standard equipment
  • Latest Bosch lambda sensors allow downsizing
  • Bosch parts range provides lambda sensors in original-equipment quality for almost any vehicle

Lambda sensors are smart controllers inside the exhaust gas system: They measure the composition of the engine exhaust gases. This technology first allowed exact dosing of the amount of fuel injected and thus highly efficient and clean engine operation. But there is even more. In gasoline engines, for instance, the fuel-saving overrun cut-off wouldn't be possible without modern lambda sensors. And neither would modern exhaust gas treatment in diesel engines. By now, 40 years have passed since Bosch first started the series production of this invention. These days, the one-billionth Bosch lambda sensor left the production facilities. “Lambda sensors are and will remain a key element to ensure clean and efficient operation of combustion engines,” Dr. Uwe Thomas, chairman of the Bosch Automotive Aftermarket business division, said.

The production figures at Bosch also clearly show the significant increase in demand throughout the last 40 years. It took 32 years – from 1976 to 2008 – to reach the production record of 500 million pieces, but only eight years – from 2008 to 2016 – to double the production figures to 1 billion sensors.

Successful start of production in the USA

In 1976, the story of success started in the USA: The Volvo 240/260-series was the first passenger car equipped with a Bosch lambda sensor as standard for the US market. Already back then, the emission regulations in the USA were relatively stringent. At the same time, the Bosch sensor gave proof of the performance modern engine technology can provide. Often, the emission values were even much lower than the limits allowed, thanks to accurate lambda control. By now, lambda sensors have become an integral part of modern cars.

For technical reasons, more and more gasoline-powered vehicles use two lambda sensors per exhaust gas system. But also modern diesel vehicles are hard to imagine without any lambda sensor. This trend will continue as the ever more stringent statutory emission limits for newly registered gasoline and diesel vehicles can only be achieved by means of a highly efficient exhaust gas treatment.

Spare parts range benefits from 40 years of production know-how

As leading OE supplier, Bosch also provides a spare parts range for automotive workshops including the matching lambda sensor for almost any vehicle equipped with a gasoline or diesel engine. This makes Bosch the worldwide leader of the automotive aftermarket – with a market coverage of 85 percent in Europe alone. The product range includes hundreds of versions on stock and are thus quickly deliverable.

Diagnosis and replacement of lambda sensors

In case of a defective lambda sensor, car drivers should have it replaced as soon as possible. Without correctly measured values provided by the sensor, fuel combustion loses its effectiveness and the fuel consumption increases. An On-Board-Diagnosis (OBD) test at the workshop can provide reliably information on whether a lambda sensor needs to be replaced or not. By means of the KTS-series testers and latest emission testers, Bosch provides state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment allowing a quick and reliable evaluation of a lambda sensor's current condition. In most cases, workshops will find just the right lambda sensor in OE quality within the Bosch spare parts range including more than 1 200 part numbers solely for lambda sensors. As a competent partner for workshops, Bosch provides diagnostic equipment, parts and services from a single source.