SHIFT TO EAST ACCELERATES
By TA News Bureau:
Apollo Tyres is firmly spreading its footprint eastwards as it senses the dynamics of a growing market in the Asia, Pacific and Africa region. Heading Apollo’s strategic push is veteran in this field Satish Sharma, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), Apollo Tyres Ltd. In n interview to Tyre Asia he explains the emerging scenario and why his company is optimistic to become a force to reckon with in the region. Excerpts from the interview
When you look at the mobility scene in Asia, Pacific and Africa region, what are the major emerging trends that you think will have a much greater impact on market development for tyres in the coming decade, and how is Apollo geared to meet those?
The centre of gravity of the automotive manufacturing is moving eastwards, propelling the development of the tyre industry in the entire region. For example, India has become a hub for several auto makers. Similarly, for tyre manufacturing, there is a lot of action happening in India and the ASEAN countries, in addition to China.
The improving infrastructure and the regulations in different countries are driving the maximum changes in automotive and tyre technology in that region. Having said that, any transformation in technology should also be relevant to the market as well where it is being used. With connected vehicles, the tyres are also becoming intelligent, as they now contain more and more enabling technologies within its structure. We are also witnessing the shift of consumer preference towards SUVs and 4×4 vehicles from the past few years.
Our investments into R&D have been increasing rapidly to keep ourselves ahead of the technology transformation curve, and develop products that are aligned to the latest market trends. We have been engaging with the OEMs a lot more to develop products suited to their stringent requirements.
With the emphasis on infrastructure development in emerging markets, what impact will it have on Apollo’s marketing strategies?
Faster infrastructure development in emerging markets needs lots of Off-highway and Commercial Vehicle tyres, where Apollo has had a strong presence, and will continue to have, in the near future as well. Improved infrastructure also means increasing speeds, emphasis on wet and dry traction, and noise of tyres. We are geared up to meet these challenges, as we are already supplying our tyres to European countries, where one needs to meet the stringent product regulations.
In the coming decade, what are the segments where you see a still higher growth coming in? Do you think electric vehicles will create an altogether new segment that would see unprecedented market development?
From the India perspective, the entire automotive space has done well. While some of the product categories are cyclical, commercial vehicles and off-highway tyres are on an upward surge. In the consumer segment, both two-wheeler and passenger vehicle tyres continue to do well in the last decade or so. With the increase in spending power, the consumer categories will hold its growth momentum in the next decade as well.
As the move towards Electric and Hybrid Vehicles gathers steam, they will soon find a meaningful share in every market. One should not take the EVs and HEVs lightly, while product planning for the future.
You have taken innovative decisions in developing retailing setups that allow better customer experience. Do you plan to further enlarge such business models to engage with customers?
Absolutely. Modern retail is the key to attracting customers, engaging with them and helping them take an informed tyre purchase decision. Given the shape, size, location, category and other variables, we will continue with our offering of a range of modern retail solutions – Super Zone, Zone, Point, Corner and on the similar lines, different variations to extend our rural outreach.
You make high quality products. How do you compete with low cost tyres of questionable quality that still flood the market? How do you engage and educate consumers on this issue which has implications for personal safety?
As you have rightly mentioned, we make high quality products; and these high quality products speak for themselves. Our product offerings in different categories have their own pull in the market. Customers, who opt for low quality tyres, will do that only once, before returning to better quality products being offered by brands like us. We have our teams in place, which interact and engage with customers to educate them about the perils of low quality products, and how it can risk their and others’ lives.