The India growth story remains hugely attractive not just for automobile manufacturers but also for automotive ancillary manufacturers both eyeing the domestic market as well as export from India. Maxxis Rubber India, a subsidiary of Maxxis Group, which is claimed to be the largest two-wheeler tyre maker in the world, officially inaugurated its Gujarat plant in March 2018. The $400 million (Rs 2,640 crore) plant is spread across 106 acres and dedicated to production of two-wheeler tyres and tubes. At present, it has a manufacturing capacity of 20,000 tyres and 40,000 tubes per day. The bullish-on-India company’s ambition is to grab 15 percent market share of the fast-growing Indian tyre market by 2023.
Maxxis currently serves as an OE tyre supplier to Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, Maruti Suzuki India, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and FCA India (Jeep) in India. It is also the original equipment tyre supplier to India’s best-selling scooter model – the Honda Activa – since 2015.
In terms of global product portfolio Maxxis Tyres caters to passenger cars, two-wheelers, light trucks, trucks, buses, ATVs and agricultural and industrial vehicles. Globally, the Maxxis Group has a presence across six continents with 21 manufacturing plants and five R&D centres worldwide, and supplies its diversified tyre products to 180 countries.
Of the 1,000-plus dealer count, the last 100 have come in just about two weeks
For India, which is slated to play a vital role in its growth plan, in addition to being an OE supplier, having a robust network of dealerships across the country is vital. Maxxis Tyres has been able to achieve that rather speedily. In an earlier interaction, a company spokesperson had said that "Maxxis has come to India because of the market size, not the low cost of manufacturing."
Interestingly, while Maxxis is a global partner for many of the auto OEMs present in India, entering the domestic aftermarket space is quite a surprising move. The company had said before entering any new market it conducts a thorough study. In fact, its India journey began six years ago, when its team visited India to undertake a feasibility study. Maxxis finds India to be a 'very exciting market' which is in alignment with its global goals.
The company agrees while the journey (in India) is going to be very tough, it’s the first time Maxxis has entered a market where domestic players have a very dominant presence along with advanced technologies and capabilities. When the company had initially planned to set up manufacturing in India, there were around 3-4 players with premium offerings. At present the company says their number has increased to 10 and the market is very crowded now.
Targeting the aftermarket
While the company is in advanced talks with leading two-wheeler manufacturers for becoming an OE supplier, it is also looking at aggressive play in the aftermarket. In the aftermarket, Maxxis has a range of products for popular models such as Bajaj (Discover); Hero (HF-Deluxe, Splendor I-Smart, Glamour, Duet, Destini, Passion, Maestro); Honda (Activa, CB Shine, Aviator, Dream Yuga); Suzuki (Access, Hayate, Burgman); Mahindra (Gusto, Centuro); TVS (Jupiter, Wego, Star City, Victor); Piaggio (Vespa); Yamaha (Ray, Fascino , Saluto) and others.
Ensuring wide dealer reach is critical for any new player and Maxxis has successfully established a network of more than 1,000 dealers in a span of less than 12 months.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Bing-Lin Wu, Marketing and Retail Sales Head, Maxxis India, says: "Maxxis is one of the world’s fastest growing tyre brands and the youngest to be amongst the top 10 tyre companies, globally. With the inauguration of our first manufacturing plant in India, in Sanand earlier this year, the first and most critical task at hand for the company was to set up a robust dealership network across India. While we started with a few dealers in Gujarat, Maxxis’s International quality standards and product technology got wide acceptance from customers and interest from dealers across India."
Further explaining the strategy to bring on board dealers, Wu says: "Our well-defined and clear strategies for dealer appointment right from the beginning coupled with a qualitative approach have helped us reach the landmark of 1,000 dealers in a record time of 12 months. In order to tap the right set of channel partners that match our brand synergies, we curated deals and policies that are beneficial for our distributors, channel partners and customers alike."
Maxxis Rubber India's plant in Sanand has a manufacturing capacity of 20,000 tyres and 40,000 tubes per day.
"To strengthen our relationship with existing and new dealer partners, we have been conducting dealers’ meets and activations at an all-India level. These meets have helped the brand expand its reach to a wider customer base, making stronger inroads in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Owing to the robust dealer engagement activities and customer-centric polices, we witnessed a tremendous growth spurt with the on-boarding of the last 100 dealers within a short span of two weeks," explains Wu.
With the company geared up for aggressive play in the aftermarket and in talks with leading OEMs for new business, Maxxis is looking for a happy ride in India.
Interview Bing-Lin, Marketing & Retail sales head, Maxxis India
Did you face any challenges when recruiting dealers in India? How many are exclusive Maxxis dealers?
We did not face any major challenges in recruiting dealers in large cities. In fact, we are delighted to receive an enthusiastic response and interest from dealers across the country. However, for rural markets, we took several initiatives towards creating brand awareness for brand Maxxis to generate interest and instil confidence in prospective partners.
We organised phase-wise workshops to create awareness amongst our stakeholders such as OE partners, distributors, dealers, fitters and mechanics. Our on-ground teams interacted with customers, sensitised them about the brand and assessed product performance especially in the critical markets.
However, what worked best was our best schemes, margin offers and transparent claim resolution process, including the industry-best 5+1 unconditional warranty with Maxxis two-wheeler tyres that made us a preferred choice for the dealers. Above all, positive word of mouth about the quality and technology of Maxxis tyres has earned us the trust of the distributors and dealer partners.
As you have been able to complete your target of having a network of over 1,000 dealers this year, what is your target for 2019?
The company has grown its footprint in the India market with over 1,000 dealers in a short span of 12 months with a focused approach towards enhancing customer experience with the Maxxis brand, along with offering tyres with unmatched quality and technology.
Maxxis lays great emphasis on digitisation and business analytics, the dealer locator on our website directs customers to the nearest Maxxis dealership and also enables them to call or get directions to the nearest dealership via Google navigation from the listing on the site.
For 2019, our target will be to generate sales from already on-board dealerships and continue new appointments at a steady pace. Our aim is to capture at least 15 percent share of India’s two-wheeler tyre market by 2023.
What is your strategy to grow in the competitive aftermarket and how do you plan to compete against the well-entrenched local tyre majors?
Indian consumers have become extremely aspirational, which presents great opportunities for the OEMs, manufacturers and dealers at large. Looking at the current conducive environment, we at Maxxis strive to create and deliver the highest quality products and services to both B2B and B2C customers.
We want to offer our customers a seamless and easy replacement service which no other brand is offering right now. Our idea is to build customer trust and hence, we provide a hassle-free ‘no-questions-asked’ replacement, covering both manufacturing and non-manufacturing defects that cause the tyres to become unserviceable. This warranty is valid for five years from the date of manufacture.
Another aspect that is unique to our policy is that we provide ‘free of cost’ tyre replacement covering both manufacturing and non-manufacturing defects, valid for one year from the date of purchase.
The Indian two-wheeler industry is seeing growth in the adventure bike segment. As you already have a range of products in this category, will you introduce them in India?
The need for mobility is big in India, and the country is amongst the fastest developing economies in the world. Today, the two-wheeler landscape has undergone a massive change and the profile of two-wheeler riders has also metamorphosised with time. Around 17.7 million two-wheelers were sold in India in 2017 and it is further expected to increase considerably. We feel that the demand will come from the commuter segment bikes with 150cc to 200cc and 350cc as young bike enthusiasts and professionals prefer to ride a 200cc bike that delivers great performance and mileage.
With our global expertise and technical prowess, Maxxis India too will be entering higher segments as soon as we see a significant growth opportunity in the segment.
(This article was first featured in the November 15, 2018 issue of Autocar Professional)