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The global automotive industry is undergoing unprecedented change. With an overall decline in sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles expected in the coming years, NGK SPARK PLUG has been putting in place plans for some time now to ensure its continuing success.

As set out in its 2030 Long Term Management Plan, ‘NITTOKU BX’, the company is using its expertise gained over almost a century and adapting it to meet the needs of the future. This is demonstrated by its comprehensive offer for hybrid cars. Indeed, this type of vehicle symbolises the current change occurring in the automotive industry, relying both on traditional and future-oriented forms of engine power. The hybrid market, moreover, is expected to rapidly increase in Europe in the next ten years, exceeding 70 million by 2032 and thus, providing exciting business opportunities for NGK SPARK PLUG.

The benefits of hybrid cars

Hybrid cars use at least two different types of power, coming equipped with both an electric engine which uses energy stored in batteries and an (petrol or diesel-powered) ICE. The basic operating principle of hybrid vehicles involves the use of each (or both) particular engine at different speeds. The electric engine, for example, is more efficient at producing turning power or torque, while the ICE is better at maintaining high speed. A hybrid vehicle switches engine use from one to the other at the optimum time, resulting in energy efficiency, fuel efficiency and ultimately reduced emissions.

Hybrid vehicles are available in four different distinctions: ‘Mild-HEV’, ‘Full-HEV’, ‘Plug-in HEV’ and ‘REEV’. While each different type comes with its own unique features, they all offer many benefits in terms of practicality, efficiency and eco-friendliness.

Practical: The combination of an electric motor and an ICE guarantees a long driving range as well as no limitations in terms of charging stations or charging time which is required with electric vehicles.

Efficient: When starting a hybrid vehicle or during low or stop-start speeds, the electric engine is used solely, which results in zero fuel consumption. During acceleration or uphill driving, however, both engines work together to provide a fuel-efficient operation. On the other hand, when travelling steadily at mid-to-high speeds, the ICE is used only.

Eco-friendly: Hybrid vehicles consume less energy due to regenerative braking. When braking or going downhill, the engine is turned off and kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy, which is used to recharge the battery. They also offer a reduction in CO2 emissions, especially in congested city traffic. This is the case because when the car is not moving, both the ICE and electric motor are turned off.

NGK & NTK products in hybrid cars

The company’s NGK Ignition Parts and NTK Vehicle Electronics brands provide wide-ranging coverage to hybrid cars. This includes spark plugs, glow plugs, ignition coils and leads, oxygen sensors, exhaust gas temperature sensors (EGTS), MAP/MAF sensors, engine speed & position sensors and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves.

Spark plugs: Today, most hybrid cars use petrol engines, with the latest precious metal spark plugs based on combustion engines with start-stop technology. While hybrid vehicles consume lower amounts of fuel due to electrification, they weigh heavier than traditional ICE vehicles, which means that spark plugs in hybrids carry the same expected lifetime and service intervals as those used in general ICE vehicles. In order to meet the higher technological demands of hybrid cars, precious metal spark plugs provide optimum performance, with around 95% of hybrids coming off the production line featuring this particular type of technology. For the minority of hybrids that are OE-equipped with nickel spark plugs, NGK SPARK PLUG offers a range of precious metal Aftermarket replacements that deliver better performances in terms of fuel efficiency, ignition optimisation and extended lifetime.

Glow plugs: Roughly 10% of hybrid cars use diesel technology, with glow plugs used primarily in vehicles for the upper/middle class segment. NGK SPARK PLUG provides both metal and ceramic glow plugs. Ceramic glow plugs, however, have a technical advantage over metal glow plugs because the latter have a higher wear due to standby annealing in hybrid mode. The expected serviceable lifetime for glow plugs is the same as for general diesel engines.

Ignition coils and leads: NGK ignition coils meet the highest quality standards on the market and are a perfect match for the higher technical requirements in hybrid cars. In hybrids, a greater performance level is required of ignition coils because of a higher load range.

Due to an increase of advanced direct connected coils (pencil and top coils, or direct ignition systems) ignition leads, on the other hand, are less required in hybrid cars. However, they remain necessary for approximately 41% of the gasoline car parc. NGK SPARK PLUG’s Aftermarket range offers the best car parc coverage and provides increased performance, derived from the company’s advanced technological expertise.

NTK Vehicle Electronics product range: NTK Vehicle Electronics’ offer for hybrids (both petrol and diesel versions) consists of oxygen sensors, exhaust gas temperature sensors (EGTS), MAP/MAF sensors, engine speed & position sensors and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves to meet the latest emissions standards. Indeed, all NTK products cover the latest technologies and automotive standards, regardless of whether they are used in combustion or hybrid configurations. Moreover, the NTK product range offers a constantly growing EMEA car parc coverage.

“Our comprehensive range of NGK and NTK components is providing our company with strong sales opportunities in the Aftermarket hybrid segment,” says Frank Massia, Director Marketing Aftermarket EMEA, NGK SPARK PLUG EUROPE GmbH. “This market highlights one aspect of our company’s vision as we continue to prepare for the mobility of the future.”