Can you tell us more about yourself and how you came to be a part of the automotive industry?
My father ran a small trading company in Japan until mid of 2000’s. He traveled a lot for business when I was a child, and seeing that, I naturally hoped to work for a global company that would give me the opportunity to travel. As a child, my main hobby was building plastic models, mainly 1/24 scale car models. Later on, I began repairing my own actual car. My father was also a car enthusiast. All of these had a tremendous influence on me, for better or for worse. As of 2020, I would have completed a quarter century working at NGK Spark Plug.
How important is the Middle East market for NGK Spark Plugs?
The Middle East market has a very diverse range of vehicles, ranging from hybrid cars sporting very modern technology to old vintage models. NGK Spark Plugs has a history going back many years and is known for its expertise as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). We are able to provide a range of high-quality products for engine manufacturers which meet their most stringent parameters and are able to attain the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
While NGK is known primarily for its spark plug in the region, what are the products that you are going to launch on a regional basis in the coming years?
We plan to launch NGK branded ignition coils in the Middle East region in 2020 as part of our response to the demand from many NGK Spark Plug users for a “Total NGK Spark Plug Ignition System”. The NGK branded ignition coil has received good feedback from the European market where it has already been launched.
This market is known for its extreme temperatures. Do you adapt and test your products specifically for this market?
NGK Spark Plugs has demonstrated performance that is capable of adaptation to extreme conditions all over the world. Engine manufactures conduct very tough evaluation tests before opting for our products and hence we are proud of the fact that the NGK Spark Plugs has the highest market share as an Original Equipment Manufacturer.
Can you tell us more about your distribution network and the availability of your products in the UAE?
NGK Spark Plugs are distributed through our authorized distributors in UAE. Based on the market trends, we import products mainly from Japan.
Your company has a global presence. With the advent of self-driving and growing emphasis on technology, the role of sensors has become more important. Can you tell us more about your range of sensors?
We specialize in sensors for detection of gases and for the control of internal combustion engines. Even self-driving vehicles have internal combustion engines (including hybrid systems) and our sensors are required for such vehicles.
With Expo 2020 coming in the next year, what impact do you think it will have on the automotive industry in this market?
During the 2020 Expo, it is expected that more than 25 million visitors from more than 180 countries will visit Dubai. In relation to the growth of the tourism industry, the demand for transportation vehicles like taxis and buses will increase, and it is expected that there will be a corresponding increase in the demand for spare parts. We expect the sales of NGK spark plugs to increase accordingly.
The availability of original spare parts is an issue of serious concern in this market. How do you address customer concerns about product quality?
Spark plugs are our core product offering and we stand behind the quality of our NGK branded spark plugs, both when it comes to original spare parts and NGK branded aftermarket parts. The products for both the OE market and the aftermarket are made at the same facilities, using the very same high-quality materials and technologies.
Dubai is a regional hub in terms of logistics and distribution. How does this factor into your plans for the market?
Dubai has highly developed ports like the Jebel Ali Free Zone. We use Dubai as the gateway for distribution of NGK products not only in the UAE, but also in the surrounding GCC countries, Africa, CIS, and parts of Asia. Our products are imported into Dubai from Japan and distributed here as well as re-exported to other markets. Surely, Dubai serves a key role in the distribution of our products.
Which are your best-selling products in this region and why?
Our best-selling product range is the Nickel type (Standard) spark plug. The demand for the precious metal type (high performance) spark plug is also very strong. If customers desire better ignitability, fuel economy and longer durability, then the double precious metal type is the best option.
What are the main challenges you face in this market?
Our main challenge is launching the NGK branded ignition coil. We are well known for our spark plugs and now we need to be known as an ignition specialist. We recommend you try NGK Ignition Coil + NGK Spark Plugs and you will definitely feel the difference in your vehicle performance.
What are your short-term and long-term plans for this region?
Our short-term challenge is to grow the NGK and NTK ranges, to enhance the appeal of more products and impress our end consumers with their performance through actual use. We have developed a program of collaboration with mechanics employed in garages and repair shops who are fully capable of understanding the quality and performance of NGK and NTK products and are likely to recommend our products to end consumers. Since NGK and NTK products are used by many engine manufacturers as OE, we are proud of our OEM experience. Our long-term plan is to increase NGK and NTK product lines and we are well placed for this due to the performance and trust associated with our products.
As an online automotive news website, we are keen on understanding how important it is for you to maintain and promote a digital presence in this region.
Social media is widely used by many people. NGK is highly active on social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and uses these platforms to share exciting information with the public.
Emissions and fuel efficiency are emerging as the main issues of concern to regulatory authorities and NGK has many products related to this segment. Can you tell us more about these products?
Even small parts like spark plugs can contribute to both lower emissions and fuel consumption. We have precious metal spark plugs with Platinum or Iridium as center electrodes which can be used to achieve good ignitability and facilitate smoother engine rotation; an improvement compared to Nickel center electrode spark plugs. Our spark plugs contribute to higher engine durability and better ignition
The government in Dubai is very active in promoting electric cars. Do you have any concern about how the government policies will affect the sale of your products?
Battery Electric Vehicles would become more popular if they offered a higher range like internal combustion engine powered vehicles. For the coming decade, the most popular electrified vehicles are likely to be hybrid vehicles. A hybrid car has an engine as a main source of power for the vehicle and to generate electricity for its battery and electric motor. Therefore, spark plugs are still required for running the engine even in hybrid cars.
Dubai has a high rate of accidents and road safety is a serious issue here. Does NGK have any safety related products?
We have Hydrogen leakage detection sensor for Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV). Although this type of vehicle is not common here in Dubai, FCV is available in Japan, USA and Europe. FCV’s generate electricity to driving motors through the use of Hydrogen. Our sensor is of a very high quality and a key component for an FCV.
Do you have any marketing partnerships, especially when it comes to motorsports?
NGK Spark Plugs have been proud sponsors of Dubai Autodrome for 9 years. The NGK brand is very important for the racing field in Dubai as well. Moreover, NGK products have been contributing to many victories in world famous races.
What do you enjoy most about working for NGK?
The NGK products, their high performance, precision and quality, and the way they contribute to people’s daily use of their car, motorcycle, marine engine or even a small engine like for generators. We are also proud of the many victories in motorsports which have been brought about thanks to NGK products. This is what I really enjoy about working with NGK – that I am part of a company that makes such a difference in the daily lives of many people.
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