'We could launch Ecopia for CVs by Q2-2016 and initially target intercity busmakers'

Vaibhav Saraf, senior GM of sales and marketing, PSR Placement, Bridgestone India, talks about the tyre manufacturer's plans to 'make in India' and also expand into the CV space.

Shourya Harwani By Shourya Harwani calendar 23 Nov 2015 Views icon4306 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Vaibhav Saraf, senior GM of sales and marketing, PSR Placement, Bridgestone India, talks about the tyre manufacturer's plans to 'make in India' and also expand into the CV space.

What were the origins of the Ecopia brand?

The Ecopia brand started way back in 1995, when we started supplying it to electric cars. A decade later, supplies began to passenger vehicles globally.

As regards Ecopia in India, we had done a test project in 2009 where we launched limited sizes on import basis. Based on the progress and development and market feedback, we further customised Ecopia to match the brand essence, without compromising on parameters like safety and durability. Now we have decided to launch it in a very big way by manufacturing these tyres in India.

What is the rollout plan for Ecopia in India?

We will launch Ecopia in 26 sizes – 17 in the passenger cars segment and 9 in the UV segment.

In 2015 itself, we would be launching 9 sizes, available from November 1, and gradually increase production to introduce new sizes. Probably by Q3 2016, we would have all 26 sizes available in the Indian market.

As far as the CV market is concerned, we have not introduced Ecopia so far but it is currently under development. Hopefully, if everything goes as planned, we could launch Ecopia for CVs by Q2 2016 and will initially target the intercity bus makers.

What makes Ecopia better than the competition?

It is a fuel efficient tyre with no compromise on safety and durability.  This is what will separate it from competition and it also supports the environmental causes. Usually, when you achieve lower RRC, there is always a trade-off between wet performance and safety performance. But in this case we have taken utmost care that we do not compromise on any of these parameters.

How would a made-in-India Ecopia tyre be different from say an Ecopia tyre manufactured elsewhere?

Indian road conditions, driving habits and the vehicle construction in terms of chassis weight are very different from European countries and the Americas. In India we need a stronger tyre and a more durable tyre, so ply construction and compounding is done as per Indian requirements to ensure that they can withstand all road conditions which prevail in India.

What will be the initial manufacturing capacity of Ecopia tyres in India?

It will all depend on the demand. For us, the primary objective is to set up the entire Ecopia brand in India, rather than concentrate only on volumes and fixed sizes. Our key objective is to roll out as many more sizes as possible during 2016, so we will focus more on that. We believe that what we have got as a product offering, both in terms of the tangible features and the value it brings in for the customers is very strong. So we are confident that Ecopia will be a very big success for us and Indian customers in the years to come.

How are you looking to price the Ecopia in the Indian market?

We are not going to price it at a premium. We have got different products at different price points so it is very difficult. In India, unfortunately, the price points are very different — you have MRPs, retail prices, market operating prices and dealer prices. So what we will do is not charge any premium on the brand and the price would be very competitive.

What is your present market share in the PV space in India?

As far as market share is concerned, we are one of the biggest players in the passenger vehicle space both in the OE and replacement markets. We would not be in a position to quantify our share as it is very subjective and depends on several factors but we are definitely one of the biggest players in India.

How do you plan to deal with the issue of dumping of cheap tyres from countries like China?

This issue is not just for Ecopia, but for all the products that we sell in the market. Our motto is to serve society with superior quality and products. Chinese imports are not something new, it has been happening for the last 10 years and has always been growing, but through sustained brand and marketing strategy coupled with a reliable product which surpasses all the quality expectations of our customers we have been able to maintain our reputation and our share as well. We will continue that and are very confident that the Indian consumer will respond to that by supporting our brand as much as possible.

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