Could you give us a quick rundown of your products?
We have TWO brands, NGK and NTK.
Our spark plugs, glow plugs and related products under “NGK” have been in long use since the establishment of the company, becoming some of the top-quality products throughout the world. As our leading products, they have made significant contributions to the progress of the automobile industry. Under “NTK”, we produce IC packages, sensors for exhaust gas cleaning (Lambda sensors) and cutting tools.
Our company is expanding its business field to areas such as medical, environment and energy products as well as bio ceramic products for which demands are expected to increase in the future. Here at NGK-ME, we only distribute products related to the automotive industry.
You offer spark plugs and glow plugs. What are the differences between the two?
The major difference lies on the function and technology of the products. Spark plugs are used only for petrol/gasoline engines, while glow plugs are used for diesel engines.
Could you tell us something about your spark plug technology?
NGK works closely with automobile manufacturers to research and develop spark plugs technology that provides improved driving performance and outstanding environmental efficiency, as well as meets the demands and requirements of customers. We have been producing spark plugs since 1936, which is almost 80 years. Currently, we have around 40 percent market share worldwide, supplying spark plugs to all the major manufacturers as OEM, for cars, marines and motorcycles.
What sets your spark plugs apart from those offered by other spark plug manufacturers?
As mentioned, NGK is the OEM for all major automobile manufacturers worldwide. Due to technology advancement, new kinds of cars and engines require unique spark plugs. We produce more variety of spark plugs fitting to different engines of different car manufacturers. We also ensure to produce spark plugs for older car models unlike other manufacturers, making us the main supplier of almost 5,000 different items covering almost 100 percent of the engines worldwide.
Today, NGK is the largest OEM spark plug manufacturer in the world. What do you consider as the key factor that has contributed to your success?
First is the close collaboration with car manufacturers when it comes to research and development. Second is our involvement in motorsports, especially F1 (Ferrari) racing. For the last 40 years, we have been supporting Ferrari and won the F1 race more than 200 times. When we participate in these races, we get the opportunity to learn, develop and refine our technologies continuously.
Your company has a huge involvement in global motorsports events. Do you consider this as your best marketing strategy to popularize your products?
This is just one of our key strategies to promote our brands and reach out to customers as well as motorsports enthusiasts. It also gives us an opportunity to highlight the ability of NGK to perform brilliantly even in the most extreme driving conditions.
We have become an icon in spark plug technology and we are committed to offering racers a high quality product that will pave the way for their victory. Since race teams push their vehicles to the edge, each of our spark plugs is designed to withstand extreme thermal and mechanical shock related to these high-revving and high-compression race engines.
We have heard that you extended your partnership with Dubai Autodrome last year for the fourth consecutive year. This year, what are the new things that this partnership has in store?
Apart from Autodrome, we are now also exploring other opportunities to partner with some local teams and races like drag race, desert rally, and drifting to increase our reach in different categories of motorsports.
In today’s automotive manufacturing, performance and environment friendliness should stringently go hand in hand. How do you ensure that your spark plugs and other products will not harm the environment?
NGK strictly controls and monitors the manufacturing process, minimizing the impact on the environment. We also meet the car manufacturers’ stringent environment regulations. In addition, we produce spark plugs specially designed for LPG/CNG engines to cater to this niche segment.
Do you see any challenges that the spark plug market will face this year? How do you plan to deal with these challenges?
From our Dubai office, we cover around 50 countries, including Africa, Middle East, Asia and CIS countries. In general, people in African countries are not fully aware of the importance of using high quality ignition products. Worse, they easily get deceived by the counterfeiters. So, one of the challenge for us is to create awareness in these developing markets to ensure that NGK consumers understand the danger it poses to their car engines.
Given the extreme weather condition in the Middle East, how do you ensure that your spark plugs will perform at their optimum for the vehicles in the region?
NGK spark plugs are designed to meet any kind of extreme weather and/or driving conditions. To cover these extreme conditions further, NGK spark plug comes in different heat range, in which they work well thermally. Each spark plug’s heat rating is indicated by a number; lower numbers indicate a hotter type, while higher numbers indicate a colder type. For instance, if the OEM is a BP6ES, we can recommend a BP7ES instead of a BP 6 for hot weather conditions. By choosing the right heat rating, consumers can use the product as per their needs.
Where do you see the spark plug market in the Middle East in the next five years?
Globally, we expect the volume to decrease and same applies to Middle East due to technology and components change from nickel only to new iridium and platinum type spark plugs. The life of the plug becomes longer from 20,000 to 100,000 kilometers, which means the replacement is much less. On the other hand, we expect the trend of spark plugs to change from standard nickel to precious metals such as platinum and iridium.
Each spark plug unit comes with part numbers. What do these numbers indicate and what is their significance to the driver?
The alphanumeric part number represents the specification of each product. Users and/or drivers should always refer to the car’s owner manual to find the right application for their car. They can also approach NGK dealers as well as refer to our websitewww.ngkntk.aefor more details.
When misfires occur, is the spark plug really the root of the problem or is this a symptom of another issue with the vehicle?
Misfires can occur due to many factors such as not fitting the right spark plugs. Tightening them too much damages the plug. Thus, replacing the spark plug on time with correct fitting is important to prevent misfires.
Anyone can learn how to drive, but only a few are interested in knowing the inner workings of the vehicle. This renders most drivers unknowledgeable about the right spark plug to use for their car. How do you ensure that your customers are properly educated when it comes to this?
Drivers are always recommended to refer to the owner’s manual to identify the correct part for their car. They can also visit the NGK dealers who can recommend the correct application.
What are the tell-tale signs that oxygen sensors need replacement? How often do they need to be replaced?
Oxygen sensors generally carry warranty to car manufacturer of 5 to 8 years. Normally, when a sensor become faulty or need replacement, a warning lamp indicated this. The driver should immediately check on the warning light in the car and visit a garage or workshop. If the oxygen sensor is faulty, it must be replaced immediately. Avoiding replacement can reduce the vehicle’s performance and efficiency, which could lead to 20 percent more fuel consumption.
Just last year, counterfeit automotive parts made global headlines. How did this issue affect your company? Could you share with us the steps you are taking to combat their proliferation?
NGK, being a market leader with a strong brand name, becomes an easy target for counterfeiters. This negatively affects brand image and results in loss of revenue not only to our company but also to the government authorities of a country. In addition, it also creates confusion among customers, which leads to loss of confidence in our products. As a trading hub, counterfeit goods easily get distributed in UAE as well as in the rest of the Middle East and Africa.
Here at NGK, we closely work with legal companies and government authorities in raiding the source of counterfeit goods, as well as seizing and destroying them. In the UAE, we continuously put our efforts in creating awareness through the customs and economic department, as well as through print and electronic media.
What are some industry predictions for 2015 related to the products and technologies you offer?
As aforementioned, we foresee the trend to longer life spark plugs. With more environment regulations coming to effect, we expect the demand for oxygen sensors and Lambda sensors to increase, giving NGK/NTK the opportunity to fill this demand.
Could you give us a sneak peek of your next products or projects?
We are working and planning to introduce ignition coils and some new sensors such as temperature sensors for the aftermarket in the near future.
How do you want NGK spark plugs to be remembered by customers?
“NGK: The world-leader in spark plug technology”
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