Even as its greenfield plant here gets ready, French tyre-maker Michelin is reaching out to customers in transport hubs with “innovative programmes explaining the tangible benefits” of radial tyres, and expanding its marketing and service network.

The exercise assumes significance as the company braces up itself for a long haul race in the highly competitive and cost-conscious truck and bus tyre segment. The objective is two-fold — to popularise the Michelin brand and promote awareness about radial tyres. “Michelin estimates radialisation in the truck market to be about 16 per cent today. In contrast, it is 70 per cent in Africa and West Asia and 100 per cent in developed markets. This rate [in India] will go up to 50 per cent by 2020. We definitely want to be a part of this growth,” according to a spokesperson of the company.

Greenfield plant

The timing of Michelin could be just right considering that more OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), she explained, were “increasing the percentage of tyre fitment on their trucks to radial tyres.” The completion schedule for its upcoming project, in the meanwhile, has been pushed up from November this year to next year. The greenfield factory is being set up by Michelin India Tamil Nadu Tyres with an investment plan of Rs.4,000 crore.

The 20.7 billion euro global tyre brand has two entities in India. Michelin India, the other entity, has been selling and marketing its tyres in the country, “besides pioneering the industry shift towards truck radialisation,” she said.

The spokesperson accompanied a group of journalists from India on a visit organised by the company to a few of its facilities and provide insights into its CSR (corporate social responsibility) work in Thailand.

As part of the education campaign, Michelin had launched a travelling information caravan to spread the message on benefits of radial technology, especially its truck radial tyres made for Indian conditions. Various aspects are covered, including tyre care, which though gaining attention, is still in early stages in the country. Michelin also proposes to expand the network of its TyrePlus stores for passenger vehicles and Michelin Truck Service Centre (MTSC) stores for commercial vehicles in the coming months. There are 19 TyrePlus stores and MTSC stores across the country.

“At full ramp-up, the plant will produce two million radial bus and truck tyres a year and employ 1,500 people. The three new plants of the company in Chennai, Brazil and China are crucial to the company achieving its ambitious target of doubling sales in emerging markets. The company has recruited over 800 people for the plant, of which 173 are undergoing training.

In Thailand, Renato Machado Da Silva, Managing Director of Michelin Siam Co. Ltd., and Nicholas John Walker, Plant Director of the facility in Laem Chabang Industrial Estate, highlighted how Michelin worked closely with the local community around its plants. It is involved in specific programmes benefiting the community and environment. The spokesperson added that Michelin in Chennai had begun engaging with the community. Based on the findings of a household socio-economic survey, conducted by Foundation for Rural Recovery and Development in 31 villages on the periphery of the site, Michelin is devising its mid- and long-term strategy for CSR.

(This correspondent was in Thailand recently at the invitation of the company.)

Keywords: Michelin

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