Global tyre major Michelin has indicated that it would strengthen its focus in the rapidly growing two-wheeler segment in India. “We see an enormous growth potential within the two-wheeler segment in India. It’s a market which is not just growing but also evolving quickly,” Gary Guthrie, president, Two-Wheel Tyre Division, Michelin told Autocar India on the sidelines of the launch of its first television commercial in the country.
To that effect, it is strengthening its negotiations with automakers to co-develop tyres and the latest upshot of such a partnership will be the G 310 R, a single- cylinder street bike jointly produced by BMW Motorrad and TVS Motor Co, which will come fitted with Michelin tyres right from launch. The upcoming motorcycle has already been spied donning Michelins earlier this year.
The company is already working with Harley-Davidson in India, and it supplies to the export variants of the popular Street 750 and Street 500, which is not on sale here.
Guthrie emphasizes on the need to get the right balance between road-holding, robustness and braking at a higher level and “better all-round level of performance and safety” which distinguishes Michelin tyres from that of its competitors. The company invests $800 million a year in its research and development process.
Developing two-wheeler tyres for the unpredictable Indian road conditions can be a challenge, he says. “Robustness is a really big issue. The roads here are either very dry or very wet. You need to have tyres that not only work well on a dry road, but one that is also able to evacuate a lot of water, which obviously has an influence on the tread design."
Apart from TVS-BMW and Harley-Davidson, the company is in talks with several other OEMs to increase market penetration and looks to capture nearly 10 percent share in the competitive two-wheeler segment in India in the next three to four years. While the goal seems ambitious, given the premium pricing of Michelin tyres in India, the company is hoping to bank on its USP of high-performance products to justify the pricing and reach its goal.
“We will start by having the best products and a wide range of tyres which delivers a better performance than the competition in each segment,” Guthrie said while revealing the company’s plan.
The second step would be to expand the availability of Michelin products in the country, for which the plan is to aggressively ramp up dealers and touch points in the coming months. The company currently has over 3,000 retail touch points across the country.
“That number will be growing very rapidly. And it’s growing as rapidly as we’re able to train the retailers and the mechanics to sell and fit Michelin tyres correctly. There’s no point in having the best tyres in the market and if it’s badly fitted. The service is important to us. The number has gone up by 1,000 in the last year itself, so we would expect it to continue growing at the same pace,” Guthrie explained.