NGK UK is confident of raising its share of the dealer aftersales spark plug market to around 40% within the next four years as it strengthens relationships with carmakers.
Brian Childs, NGK UK automotive divisional director, said the company's image of a problem solver was attractive to vehicle manufacturers.
“We have made significant inroads with manufacturers across Europe,” he said. “We secured the prestige end of the market, with Rolls-Royce, Lotus, Aston Martin and Jaguar. The volumes were not significant, but it demonstrated the quality of our product.
“Our technical centre provided the springboard for an assault on OEM business, and growth has come from focusing on quality, not price. We now supply to most carmakers.”
Mr Childs said the close relationships with manufacturers had an inevitable knock-on effect in the aftersales market. NGK, with 49% of the independent aftermarket, has a 29.7% share of dealer aftersales, which it is confident of raising to 40%.
“OEM sales filter down to the franchised aftermarket because, in most cases, dealers are required to use the same products as their manufacturer. It is critical to have this relationship with carmakers in the UK in order to secure aftersales business.”
The spark plug market is ripe for consolidation as servicing intervals lengthen and technology levels increase. Mr Childs predicts that three companies will dominate the market by 2005, with the rest – which are part of larger groups – scaling down their operations or closing.
NGK is also a leading vehicle emissions sensors supplier with its Lambda brand.
The market, driven by a combination of legislation and the need for longer servicing intervals/lower running costs, accounts for 30% of NGK's business. “The emissions sensors aftermarket is a real growth area,” said Mr Childs.
Last year saw the emissions sensors market volume increase by 64% over 1999.