Raymond Wong, CEO, ExxonMobil Lubricants India
ExxonMobil Lubricants India's CEO on the lube major’s business strategy for India, OE clients and synergies with its global portfolio. An email interview by Abhishek Saksena.
As regards ExxonMobil’s India operations, how much does the automotive sector account for?
We have a balanced portfolio but in recent years we have seen greater automotive growth compared to industrial.
What sales trends do you foresee for this fiscal?
We believe that lubes demand in India will grow at a rate of between 2-4 percent per annum. Automotive growth, more specifically demand for passenger vehicle lubricants, is likely to be faster than the growth in industrial lubricants.
Do you plan to introduce new products for the auto sector?
Yes, we do plan to introduce new products for auto this fiscal. We continue to work with OEMs to introduce automotive lubricants that will help them to achieve their major goals of improving fuel economy or emissions control or durability, or a combination of the same.
What is your business strategy for the passenger car and commercial vehicle sectors in India?
For both the sectors, our strategy is to grow our business scale, distribution, customer and influencer base by making available the lubricant needed by people who care for their vehicles and equipment. ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants’ commitment to technology leadership, product development capabilities and portfolio of well recognised global brands not only allows us to provide specific lubrication products/solutions required by OEMs in India, but also ensures that the needs of discerning lubricant consumers are well served by the Mobil1, Mobil Super and Mobil Delvac brands that we market in India.
Who are your OE clients in India?
Combining OE factory and service fill requirements, amongst others, our clients include Maruti Suzuki India, Tata Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, Toyota, Caterpillar and Volvo. While all of these OEs are in the automotive manufacturing business, the specific lubricant product needed by them at any given time may or may not necessarily be the same. Our world-class technology and product development capabilities ensure that we are able to meet the diverse and specific needs of each of these clients.
Have you developed any lubes especially for the Indian market?
As you know, every market follows its own drivers in the technology development, advancement, adaptation and commercialisation cycle. India’s automotive and lubricants market development in that sense is clearly in progress but with pace and timing versus other more developed markets perhaps, sometimes being in question. Our global portfolio of lubricant products coupled with our product development capabilities have always ensured, thus far, that we are able to offer the right product or indeed the right product line in India, be it for the OEMs or the customer who cares for his vehicle or equipment. I am convinced that this will also continue to be the case as the industry and our company in India go forward together into the future.
We understand ExxonMobil is working with Tata Motors’ Commercial Vehicle Division to develop advanced high-grade synthetic lubricants for gear and transmission applications. What is the status on that?
As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on ongoing collaborations, if any. So, we neither confirm nor deny that we are working with Tata Motors.
How do you tackle the aftermarket in India? How many distributors do you have across India?
Our business model is to approach the aftermarket through our set of strategic, best-in-class distributors who bring into play years local market relationships, superior infrastructure and delivery capabilities complemented by a well-trained extended sales force. The network size is currently on a capacity enhancement and expansion drive.
Do you think Indian vehicle owners have become more quality-conscious and pay more attention to durability and fuel economy?
Enhanced quality consciousness driven by superior information access/processing and attention to fuel economy are very evident. We believe that these key consumer behaviour patterns have substantial environmental, economic and competitive upsides for the Indian market.
ExxonMobil India has recently tied up with Carz, a multi-brand auto solutions network, which will use your lubes in its network. Do you think such independent service networks are the way ahead to drive growth in the Indian market?
Independent multi-branded service networks have grown in importance in the recent past as we have observed from the establishment of Carnation, Bosch Car Care, MyTVS, Castrol Pit-stops, Carz and our own 400-plus Mobil1 Car Care outlet chains. We believe that they will continue to be so but given the growth momentum and the ever-evolving requirement of sophisticated capacity and skills to service the automotive population across India in different stages of the asset lifecycle, we also believe that the combined capacity of all channels will be required to effectively meet the customer’s needs.
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