How does it feel to work in ACDelco?
I’m proud to work with such a renowned, trusted and high quality brand at General Motors.
We’ve just celebrated ACDelco’s 100th anniversary this year. A century is a long time to get to know what your customers want and need so it is great to work for a brand that has the depth, longevity and success in the market that ACDelco does.
What does ACDelco specialize in?
The strength of ACDelco comes from our extensive product range. With over 90,000 products across 37 categories, (many of which fit not only GM vehicles but also many others,) we know we have the right lineup to lead us into the next hundred years of success. ACDelco’s comprehensive range covers, but is certainly not limited to, products such as vehicle batteries, oils, fluids and chemicals, window tinting film, maintenance parts such as brakes, filters and spark plugs, and repair parts such as shocks, pumps, wipers, air conditioning parts and chassis parts.
Among your products, which is the most lucrative in the Middle East market? Our number one selling products in the Middle East are our ACDelco oils and fluids. Customers and garages region-wide prefer these market leaders for their high quality and ability to cope particularly well in the region’s environmental conditions.
We also hold 40% market share in the region with our best-selling ACDelco maintenance-free batteries. These batteries are manufactured in Saudi Arabia using stamp grid technology that produces a more reliable, efficient and high quality product than others on the market. We are the only local manufacturer to use this technology.
What is the edge of ACDelco among other automotive parts brands?
Aside from the insight we have gained and subsequent developments we’ve made regarding vehicles, customers and technology over the last 100 years, the thing that makes ACDelco stand out is its dedication to delivering high quality, durable, reliable products that deliver on what they promise. This brand equity cannot be bought, but earned over years and years of customers coming back to a brand that they can trust.
How do you ensure that your company stays afloat in the competition in the Middle East?Our ACDelco and genuine GM parts sales have been a source of continuous growth, with Q1 parts sales 15% higher than the same time period in 2015.
It’s about bringing the right products to the market, ensuring that people are getting genuine, durable fit for purpose parts they need that will handle the conditions in the Middle East. We have an edge in that we have had 100 years to develop the quality in our products, build our brand, and expand our lineup to cover over 90,000 part numbers.
Could you tell us more about your new product launches?
This year, we introduced a new battery to the market. As mentioned, these maintenance-free batteries are manufactured in Saudi Arabia, using stamp grid technology that produces a more reliable, efficient and high quality product than others on the market. We are the only local manufacturer to use this technology. This innovative product is available for a wide range of American, European and Asian vehicles, and is designed to withstand the sometimes extreme climate conditions that we face in the Middle East region.
One of your goals is to continue to grow your sales of maintenance-free batteries. What is the technology behind them that makes them highly suitable for the extreme climate conditions in the region?
Our latest ACDelco maintenance-free batteries utilize stamp grid technology, which make them more durable in the tough climates seen in the Middle East. The plates housed within the battery casing, (which the current flows though) are manufactured using a continuous punching process, unlike other methods such as casted grid plates, (where molten lead is poured into a mold) or expanded grid, (where lead is perforated then stretched out to create a plate).
Unlike other methods, the grid within the plates is a non-uniform design with a solid frame around the edge. This minimizes corrosion and optimizes current flow for consistent power. The structure is a lot stronger and more durable than other manufacturing methods that may fail even before 50,000km. This is not an issue with the stamp grid batteries.
Last year, ACDelco held a 40 percent share of the regional car battery market. What is the factor that significantly contributed to this success?
It comes down to having a trusted, quality product and brand that we have cultivated over the last century. People actively choose ACDelco batteries because they know it is a brand and a product that they can trust.
What is the most common cause of car battery failure?Extreme heat is always a factor in this region, which can cause the plates in the battery to expand and corrode. Thankfully, the design of our stamp grid, maintenance-free batteries helps to minimize this effect.
Could you give drivers some tips and tricks on how to prolong the life of their battery?
Drive your vehicle regularly: Leaving a vehicle stationary for an extended period affects your battery’s charge and can also result in a buildup of lead crystals in the battery (called sulfation). Regularly drive the vehicle to maintain the required level of charge in your battery.
Have your engine serviced regularly: Poor engine condition can overload the battery and reduce its life.
Check your battery charging rate: When you take your vehicle in for a major service, have the technicians check the battery’s charging rate. Both under and over-charging will reduce battery life.
Avoid draining your battery’s power: Avoid leaving vehicle accessories on regularly as this will discharge the battery and require a recharge. Constant recharging may shorten the life of your vehicle’s battery.
Keep the battery case clean: Dirt and dampness can damage a battery’s case and may cause it to lose charge. Ensure the case and terminals are checked and cleaned during every major service.
Secure the battery: Check that the battery is secure at all times, as vibration can damage the battery plates. Inspect the battery terminals regularly to ensure the connections are not loose.
What are the indicators that spark plugs need replacement? If the engine idles roughly: The sound of your car’s engine should be constant and smooth. If your vehicle’s engine is making more noise than usual, have it checked out by a certified mechanic.
If you have trouble starting your car in the morning: Dirty spark plugs and damaged wires make it difficult or impossible to deliver the spark needed to start the engine. They can even drain power from your battery. If your car is difficult to start in the morning, have a qualified mechanic check the plugs and wires.
If your car’s engine misfires: Built-up carbon deposits on your car’s spark plugs can cause one or more cylinders to misfire, resulting in poor performance.
Engine surge or hesitation: Power surges and hesitation are signs that your car’s engine is working inefficiently. It is potentially dangerous if they occur while you are in traffic. If you experience this, have your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic right away.
High fuel consumption: Worn, deteriorated spark plugs can decrease fuel economy by as much as 30 percent. If you notice you are filling the fuel tank more often than usual, you might need new spark plugs.
Lack of acceleration: A sluggish engine can sometimes be easily fixed with the installation of new spark plugs.
How should motorists prepare their vehicle for the summer season? Could you share more preventive maintenance tips?
Air Conditioning: A marginally operating system is more likely to fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner’s manual to see when your manufacturer recommends these to be changed.
Engine Cooling System: The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every two years. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended and can be done when you take your vehicle in for a service.)
Oil: Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your vehicle’s manual. However, note that ACDelco oil has been specially designed and tested to be replaced every 10,000km.
Engine Performance: Replace air and fuel filters at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer, but note that it may need to be replaced more often in dusty conditions.
Battery: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections, clean all surfaces and re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly, although, this is not necessary with ACDelco maintenance-free batteries.
Emergencies: Carry some basic tools and a first aid kit. Some vehicle brands, like Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC come with roadside assistance membership when the vehicle is purchased. The contact numbers for these are often in the vehicle (such as on a sticker in the window.) Take note of this so that if you ever have a breakdown, accident, or get stuck, you can get the help you need.
What is your take on the counterfeit automotive parts proliferating in the UAE? How do you deal with this problem?
Personally, I’m disgusted at the fact that there are counterfeiters out there who are more occupied with making a quick profit off the back of others’ brands and hard work without concern for the safety of their customers. To address this, GM set up a Global Investigations team, which is part of our GM Global Security group. With a worldwide team of Brand Protection investigators, GM Global Investigations works with a network of partners, ranging from law enforcers and customs, to identify and stop the activities of counterfeiters.
We have a dedicated team that works across the Middle East to train government customs staff to identify counterfeit GM and ACDelco products at the ports of entry. We also work to shut down counterfeiting operations by pursuing legal action against counterfeiters.
For some years now, GM Middle East has been proud to work alongside government agencies in the region to combat the introduction and spread of counterfeit car parts. Last year, we hosted a number of training sessions with government officials on how to correctly identify genuine GM and ACDelco parts and counterfeits. With the help of these training sessions and the eagle-eyed work of customs officials, we succeeded in detaining 34 shipments of counterfeit GM and ACDelco parts at points of entry last year.
Driving safety should be a paramount priority of any automotive company. As an automotive parts supplier, how do you ensure the safety of drivers through the products you offer?
We ensure the safety of our drivers by making sure that the genuine GM and ACDelco car parts used by GM dealers and authorized distributors have all been specially designed and thoroughly tested so they are high quality and fit for purpose.
The safety of our customers is our number one priority, which is why we are concerned about the threat that counterfeit parts pose to consumer safety. Since counterfeit parts are often made from inferior materials, there are no guarantees that they will hold up to the rigorous environmental and driving conditions that vehicles are subjected to in the Middle East. Depending on the part, this can extensively damage the vehicle and even risk the safety of its occupants.
If you buy a counterfeit luxury watch and it breaks, the worst thing that would happen is that you won’t know the time. However, if you go in for a brake job and somebody puts counterfeit pads on your car, the result could be fatal.
Some consumers put their safety and the health of their car at risk for the sake of a few dirhams. However, the irony is that even though counterfeit parts may seem cheaper, they often cost much more in the long run because they don’t last as long as the genuine article and need to be replaced more often. Aside from the safety risks, counterfeit parts have also been known to cause extensive and expensive damage to vehicles, whereas genuine GM and ACDelco parts can actually help to extend the life of a vehicle. This is why we insist that consumers come to GM dealers and our authorized distributors for parts, because only then can they be assured they’re getting the genuine article.
What are your plans for the Middle East automotive market this year? We want to continue doing what we do best – growing as a business by bringing high quality parts, fluids and accessories to customers throughout the region.
What do you want ACDelco to be remembered for? From when NASA used our spark plugs on the Apollo 11 mission, through to any customer today who may simply be looking to change their oil or get new wiper blades, I’d like to think that ACDelco has built a legacy based on high-quality, reputable, reliable products that people trust. I’d like to think this will follow us from our last 100 years into our next century.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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