NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd is an original equipment (OE) parts supplier to most of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers (VMs) with whom it works hand-in-hand to produce parts that are manufactured to meet their specific requirements.
It invests around eight percent of world turnover into R&D to ensure that it can constantly develop spark plugs, glow plugs and NTK Lambda sensors that deliver the optimum performance and reliability that VMs demand for their increasingly sophisticated vehicles.
This year has seen the Hemel Hempstead-based company announce a host of new OE contracts with such well-known marques as Audi, BMW, Fiat, Ford, Jaguar, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.
In addition, the company also supplies parts to many of the world’s leading four and two-wheel motorsport teams including F1’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Ferrari, the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, which competes in the FIA World Rally Championship, and Moto GP teams.
Its success is tribute to the hard work and dedication of its OE and technical staff to develop parts to satisfy the specific requirements of VMs for a wide variety of new vehicles that have recently come onto the market.
For example it developed a special spark plug, the SILKAR8C6DG, for the new Maserati Ghibli supercar which is as high-perform
ance as the engines featured in the car – the first to carry the Ghibli name since 1997.
The double precious metal spark plug has a centre electrode Iridium tip of just 0.6mm diameter and a platinum chip on the ground electrode.
The spark plug is extremely slim, being designed with a long-reach M12 thread with a 14mm hexagon. As the spark plug requires less space, it gave Maserati maximum flexibility in engine design to allow more room for larger cooling passageways.
Innovation is key to NGK’s success and its spark plugs were also selected for the optional two-cylinder engines that will act as a range extender for BMW’s new i3 electric vehicle and are also fitted to Ford’s fuel-saving EcoBoost engines, two million of which have now been produced globally since their 2009 launch.
Growing customer demand for EcoBoost-powered vehicles in Ford’s major markets worldwide is driving engine production, with output now averaging more than 100,000 engines per month, up from 65,000 in 2012.
Premier cars such as Jaguar’s recently-launched two-seater sports car, the F-Type, also feature NGK spark plugs at the heart of its engines.
The car is the first two-seater from Jaguar since the iconic E-Type was launched 50 years ago and features NGK spark plugs on the new 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine in both 340bhp and 380bhp outputs and the 5.0-litre V8 supercharged 495bhp model.
However it is not just NGK spark plugs that are selected as OE by the leading vehicle manufacturers.
The company is supplying spark plugs, glow plugs and NTK sensors for Fiat’s new Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV), the 500L Trekking.
And its spark plugs, glow plugs and NTK sensors are being fitted as OE on the new Volkswagen Golf VII.
The contract is the latest in a long line of OE successes for the world’s largest manufacturer of spark plugs and Lambda sensors and second-largest supplier of glow plugs and underscores its role as a strategic supplier to the Volkswagen group of companies. The company also supplies Audi with spark plugs for its latest S3 and Q7 SUV models.
Of particular note, is NGK’s longstanding relationship with Mercedes-Benz.
It says the successful collaboration between the two companies over the past few years and the high quality and performance of its glow plugs are the reasons behind the extension of an exclusive co-operation to run until at least 2018.
In 2007, NGK supplied glow plugs to Mercedes-Benz for the first time when the car manufacturer chose the company’s New High Temperature Ceramic (NHTC) glow plug for its new generations of diesel engines.
NGK is also the exclusive spark plug supplier for the new high-performance Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, which was unveiled earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show.
The 2.0-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder car produces 360bhp – a new record for compact cars – and accelerates from nought to 62mph in just 4.6 seconds, while having an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
Mercedes-Benz has also selected NGK spark plugs for its four-cylinder petrol engines with the vehicle manufacturer’s M274 engines and M270 transverse engines all leaving the production line fitted with NGK spark plugs.
However, it is not only the drivers of new cars that benefit from the company’s technical excellence as the same quality OE parts are available in the UK and Irish automotive aftermarket and are used by millions of drivers on the road.
The company believes it is vital that garages fit parts that genuinely match the quality and performance of the original components.
NGK says price shouldn’t be the main driver when fitting parts, stressing that quality, reliability and safety should come first. OE components may cost a little more, but the investment guarantees the consumer peace of mind and allows installers – and consumers – to ‘fit and forget’.
When it comes to sourcing OE components, vehicle manufacturers trust suppliers, such as NGK, who guarantee to use the best materials and processes to deliver products that will meet the exacting quality standards demanded of them, because nothing less will do.
Unfortunately, the company points out there are no strict rules or regulations to help define what is actually meant by suppliers who label their products with the term ‘matching quality’.