NGK Spark Plug, the world’s largest manufacturer of spark plugs, is now increasing its focus towards the solid-state battery market.
The move appears to be pre-emptive against the predicted decline of internal combustion engines, and a bid to modernize its product portfolio as electric vehicles come to the forefront.
“We realized that it was inevitable that the industry would at some point shift from the internal combustion engine to battery EVs, and that ultimately this could make our spark plug and oxygen sensor businesses obsolete,” said Takio Kojima, senior general manager of engineering and research and development, in an interview with Reuters.
One of the biggest reported advocates of solid-state batteries to date has been Toyota, which has set a goal of introducing solid-state batteries to the mass market by the early 2020s. The brand is banking on its more stable, conductive material over lithium-ion battery liquid electrolytes that are more prone to flammability during extreme temperature charging situations or motor accidents. Other desired characteristics including more energy stored, faster charging, longer life and of course acceptable costs are also in Toyota’s considerations for solid state chemistries.
Earlier this year, Toyota Motor Corp. chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada also touted solid-state batteries as part of the brand’s plans.
“This technology will be a big development step. But that will still take time. We expect mass production in four to five years.” said Uchiyamada.
Unlike Toyota, which is basing its batteries on sulfide-based solid electrolytes, NGK Spark Plug is using a different composition, one based on a ceramic-based oxide which also shares similar characteristics as Toyota’s solid-state batteries, most notably its stability at higher temperatures.
Established in 1936 in Nagoya, Japan, NGK Spark Plug is the largest OEM spark plug and oxygen sensor supplier and manufacturer in the world, with more than 10,000 employees across the globe. The brand has been responsible for several innovations, including copper core spark plugs, new ceramics, and the cleaner “V-Groove” spark plug. Today, NGK Spark Plug’s manufacturing, inventory and distribution centers in the U.S. are dispersed throughout Calif., W. Va, and Ill.