‘In India, our goal is to make the best truck radials that bring more value for people.’

Dominique Aimon, VP (technical & scientific communication), Michelin Group, speaks to Kiran Bajad on the company’s focus on truck radials.

By Kiran Bajad calendar 11 Aug 2014 Views icon2994 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘In India, our goal is to make the best truck radials that bring more value for people.’

Dominique Aimon, VP (technical & scientific communication), Michelin Group, speaks to Kiran Bajad on the company’s focus on truck radials.

Does Michelin’s Chennai plant cater only to the Indian market?
Yes, it does. We manufacture truck radials that have been designed and developed for the Indian market taking into account the road and weather conditions here. For the time being, we are making only truck radial tyres. With truck radials, we can bring more value to the Indian market. If you see the passenger car tyre market in India, it is 98 percent radial but truck radialisation is abysmally low. We think it should increase and hence our focus on truck tyres.
We are building capacities with truck tyres; this allows us to doing more OE business in India for truck. Passenger car tyres will have to wait although we have manufacturing capacity. We are concentrating to do a good job with truck tyres.
Most of the tyres we make at the Chennai plant cater to the replacement market. In Europe, 99 percent are radials but the roads and temperature are different. Brazil comes closer to India but has a higher radial percentage. In India, our goal is not to be No. 1 but to make the best tyres that bring more value for people.

Truck owners are very cost conscious and given that radials are more expensive than bias tyres, do you foresee that truck radialisation will increase in India?
Cost is no doubt important but we want to offer value and that comes not only from the initial cost of the tyre but the impact on fuel efficiency, from longevity, robustness and so on. We want solutions that tackle all these challenges of overloading, road conditions and weather conditions.

How do you see the Indian aftermarket responding to your push for truck radials?
The response has been good otherwise we would not have built a plant in Chennai. We also offer complete peace of mind because the quality of tyres that we make.

How do the Indian and Chinese markets compare?
Our India operations began a year ago while we have been in China for 12-15 years. If one desires to be a strong player in India, one needs a manufacturing footprint. In China, while the passenger car segment has switched to radials, the truck market is like that of India’s. One of the big benefits of going radial is that the truck runs for many years but buyers don’t seem keen to change their rims due to costs. So change in India will be slow, it will not happen overnight. It took 30-40 years in Europe to make the change. But India has huge potential. Moreover, the Indian and Chinese governments are working hard to reduce the overloading of trucks due to safety implications.

What are the key trends in tyre technology globally?
In tyre technology, there is room for progress and that will come from the use of sustainable materials. At present, most of the material used is fossil-based. We are trying to transform these constraints into an opportunity to identify new materials that give better performance and will help us to make tyres safer, more efficient and environment-friendly.

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