Since its inception in 1972, Apollo Tyres Ltd has always harboured global ambitions and over the last four decades the company has been able to establish its footprint across the globe including a manufacturing presence in Asia, Europe and Africa which caters to 118 countries. Such is their ambition that by the end of FY 2012 the company had registered a turnover of US$ 2.5 billion; an achievement in its own right.
Operating through its key brands, namely Apollo, Dunlop (Only for 32 African countries) and Vredestein (now branded as Apollo Vredestein post the 2009 acquisition), the company has the capacity to cater to a vast product portfolio that includes passenger car, truck, light truck, truck-bus, off highway and bicycle tyres.
In India, the company has been known for their truck and bus tyres and in recent years they have made inroads in the passenger vehicle segment and currently this is the segment that is of prime focus for Apollo as they have not only outlined plans for increasing their market share, they intend to do it through a strategic approach by offering a range of tyres that cater to a plethora of vehicle segments.
The Indian Agenda
Reiterating their focus on the passenger vehicle tyre segment, Apollo has introduced the 4G range of tyres for the market. The range includes the Aspire 4G, Alnac 4G and Amazer 4G, and according to Apollo these tyres boast of being derived from the highest technology and designed for the new age Indian motorist.
Speaking on the occasion, Neeraj Kanwar, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Apollo Tyres Ltd, stated, “These tyres are a result of cross geography collaboration between our R&D, Manufacturing, and Sales & Marketing teams in India and Europe. The R&D team has given extra attention to the safety aspect of these tyres.”
Incidentally, Apollo Tyres is the largest producer of passenger vehicle tyres in India with a capacity of 35000 tyres per day. In the last one year, the company has managed to increase their market share in the replacement tyre market from 13.5 per cent to 16 per cent. With the addition of these three new tyres aimed at a wider market ranging all the way from the Maruti Suzuki Alto to the Audi A4, Apollo is definitely looking at a larger share of the passenger tyre pie.
This is just the first step towards gaining a leadership position in the passenger vehicle category as Apollo Tyres has also stated that over the next two years the company intends on introducing anywhere between 10-12 new products in the passenger tyre segment to cater to an even wider vehicle category.
Going forth, Apollo Tyres is looking at a two pronged strategy to take on the Indian market. While Apollo Tyres will continue to be the ‘mass’ brand, the company will also introduce their Vredestein range in India to cater to the high end market. Set to debut in India by the by the third quarter of this year, Apollo is bullish about the prospects of having Vredestein in the country. Recently, Apollo Tyres got the go ahead from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) which has given the company the mandatory certification required to sell the tyres in India. It goes without saying that the Vredestein tyres will carry the ISI mark on the sidewall of the tyre when they are introduced and the tyres for the Indian market will be more robust in order to handle the domestic environs.
Apollo Tyres’ ambitions aren’t limited to the domestic market for the company has put in place a solid global agenda as well. The current plan is to be amongst the top ten tyre manufacturers in the world and of course once achieved, the company will only look at moving up the ladder even higher.
In order to achieve this, Apollo Tyres has been putting the building blocks in place. They have already acquired Dunlop in Africa in 2006 and Vredestein in 2009. Further to that, the company has set up a state of the art R&D facility in Enschede which is currently manned by 105 people including 20 Indians who have been shifted there full time. Apollo also works closely with the University of Twente where numerous research programs are being carried out by the students in realm of tyre development and future tyre technologies. The company is also set to open their Global Marketing Office in the UK which will serve as the nerve center for all markets. Not forgetting the potential of the Southeast Asian markets, Apollo has also opened a Sales Office in Bangkok, Thailand to serve the entire ASEAN region, with Thailand as the hub of operations. This region would be catered to by exports out of India currently. After Dubai for the Middle East region, this is the second hub outside company’s operations in India, The Netherlands and South Africa.
The ASEAN region has gradually become one of Apollo’s strongest export markets, out of India, accounting for more than 40% of exports revenue. The contribution of this region to the total exports revenue of the company out of India has doubled in the last 3 years time. The company already has a sizable distribution network in the ASEAN market.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Bangkok office, Satish Sharma, Chief, Zone I, Apollo Tyres Ltd, said, “As a company we are currently in our 2nd phase of expansion. In the last few years the demand and acceptability of our tyres has increased manifold in the ASEAN region. We are looking at the Bangkok office to serve as a hub for an active sales and service team. This will allow us to meet customer expectations with greater ease and swiftness.”
The web is being carefully knitted and the company intends on becoming a US $ 6 billion company in terms of annual turnover by 2016. It might sound ambitious but when Apollo was just a US 400 million dollar company in 2005, they have successfully managed to achieve their target of becoming a US 2.5 billion dollar company by the end of FY 2012.
Apart from that, Apollo Tyres is looking at forging partnerships with vehicle manufacturers at the global level. Incidentally they have already penned a deal to be the global OE supplier to Volkswagen for the Passat. The partnership is expected to grow for Apollo does cater to a number of Volkswagen products in different markets. A prime example being that the VW Polo in Brazil is sold on Apollo tyres and in the same vein the Golf and UP also come with Apollo tyres as OE fitments in numerous markets.
Apollo Tyres is probably the most ambitious of all Indian tyre manufacturers who have looked at establishing themselves as a true Indian MNC. Their plans are focused and their dedication to achieving on a global scale only fortifies this line of thought.
New Apollo range for India
The 4G range is designed to cater to superior handling in wet and dry conditions, offer a shorter braking distance and low noise. The wide outer shoulders with narrow intermediate grooves lead to better contact for dry handling. These tyres have reduced aquaplaning and enhanced grip in wet conditions. The centre rib which is optimized for stiffness, lends higher steering precision.
This ultra high performance tyre has been introduced with W and Y speed ratings. Available in 16” and 17” sizes, Aspire 4G is targeted towards the growing premium and luxury cars segment in India, like Mercedes C & E Class, BMW 5 series, Audi A4, Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat.
This new high performance tyre is specially designed for mid-size and executive car segments in India, which will be available in V and H speed ratings. Available in 15” and 16” sizes the tyre is suited for cars like Hyundai Verna & Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Skoda Superb, Chevrolet Cruze and Renault Fluence.
With a speed rating of T for standard performance, this tyre is targeted towards cars in the mini, compact and premium compact segments in India which include the Maruti Alto, Hyundai Santro, Hyundai Accent, Tata Indica, Volkswagen Polo & Vento and Swift Dzire. The Amazer 4G is available in 12” – 14” sizes.
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