Tyre maker Continental India believes that despite the heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) industry gradually moving towards the use of radial tyres, demand for bias tyres will continues to exist in the country for some time to come.
Participating in The International Commercial Vehicle Fair (TICVF) in Chennai, the company has introduced two new tyres – Conti ML for the mining and HDX 2 for the construction aftermarket segments in the bias and radial category. Both products will be available in the market soon.
Speaking to Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the TICVF, Mallika Rawal, national marketing manager, Continental India, said, “Today we are the only international brand having both truck and bus bias and radial range offerings.” This is largely because due to poor infrastructure and rampant overloading in India, just 28 percent market of the HCV segment has taken to radialisation and a large number of customers still prefer bias tyres.
Rawal believes that radialisation in India will go up with the new government’s focus on improving infrastructure and with plans to build more highways and expressways. The government is also actively looking to curb the practice of overloading trucks and customers’ acceptance levels of radial tyres is also increasing largely due to the benefits of better fuel economy and longevity. Yet, at present, a large chunk of the market still prefers bias tyres and the company doesn’t want to ignore this market.
Continental, a relatively newer global entrant in the Indian market, currently focuses more on the aftermarket segment of the heavy commercial vehicle but is gradually trying to make a mark in the OE business too. The Indian tyre market already has formidable domestic players such as JK Tyres, Apollo Tyres and MRF Tyres and MNCs like Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear with large investments and manufacturing capacities.
Earlier this year Continental India started production at the Modipuram facility and launched radial truck tyres in April. The company is presently ramping up production and plans to soon begin production of passenger car and SUV tyres. The plant has an annual production capacity of 220,000 tyres that will be further ramped up.
After acquiring Indian tyre manufacturer Modi in 2011, Continental has been steadily growing its presence in India with a dealer network of more than 1,400 outlets and a sales and customer service team spread across 70 cities. “We have a plan of expanding the dealer network and customer reach and we are hoping the the commercial vehicle industry will turnaround,” said Rawal.
At the TICVF, the company displayed its entire range of bias and radial tyres for trucks and buses as well as replacement tyres for the construction equipment segment.
Photograph: Continental India's display at the TICVF in Chennai.