The Chennai manufacturing complex is turning to be a major hub for Apollo Tyres as the country’s leading tyre maker is set to launch its global R&D centre located inside the production unit at Oragadam.
“The company will inaugurate its Chennai R&D centre, which is expected to carry out development activities in the field of commercial vehicles on Friday,” according to a person who has direct knowledge on the subject.
When asked about more details such as investment and new jobs in connection with the R&D project, a company spokesperson said that it was not ready to share details, but said Apollo Tyres, during its 5 year strategic planning exercise, decided to focus on technology and marketing as the two key pillars for the next phase of growth.
Apollo Tyres has so far invested about Rs.2,100 crore, one of its largest investments in manufacturing operations, in the Chennai all radial tyre plant, which can produce 16,000 passenger car and 6,000 truck-bus tyres a day.
Chennai R&D will be one of the two global R&D hubs for Apollo Tyres. In January 2013, the company launched its global R&D Centre in Enschede, the Netherlands for development and testing of passenger vehicles. It restructured its R&D team, across three key geographies, and decided to connect via two major hubs — Enschede and Chennai.
Indian tyre companies have been ramping up their R&D operations and pumping in more investments following the entry of global brands as also due to increasing radialisation and launch of new platforms of vehicles. Though Apollo’s R&D spend as a percentage of turnover was just 0.48 per cent in 2012-13, it seeks to increase it in the future.