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Wheels India to chalk out China strategy in six months — Targets Rs 100 pc exports this year

N. Ramakrishnan

Chennai , July 2

WHEELS India Ltd hopes to finalise its strategy vis--vis China in the next six months.

"We are in the process of studying the China market. Some of our global customers have asked us to come up with a China strategy," Mr Srivats Ram, Executive Director, Wheels India, told Business Line.

Independent of its China strategy, the company plans to give a push to exports during this year, tapping both the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) market and the aftermarket. It hopes to push export turnover from Rs 63.5 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 95 crore-Rs 100 crore this year.

Mr Srivats Ram said that the company had found that in the wheels for off-highway vehicles it was becoming a part of the global supply chain. Its customers had increased their degree of engagement in each consecutive year. The company had also been able to increase the number of its customers. "We are very much a name that is in the minds of all people in the off-highway business," he said.

The company would invest in increasing capacity of the products it makes for the export markets. In speciality wheels too, the company would make some investment aimed at the US market, whose results would bear fruit the next year.

Mr Srivats Ram said the global truck and off-highway markets offered a lot of growth potential at least for the next two-three years. Wheels India was investing in developing new technologies that would give it an advantage over its competitors.

Asked about its relationship with its foreign partner, Titan Europe, which holds a 35.91 per cent equity stake in the company, he said that Wheels India was trying to work on a programme where Titan could buy products from it. Wheels India was using Titan's distribution channels in the US, Canada and Australia.

Mr Srivats Ram said that the company's exports were to the aftermarket and to OEMs. It was a supplier to companies such as Caterpillar, Komatsu and John Deere. The level of engagement with these companies was increasing. Earlier, it was quoting against specifications, whereas now, Wheels India was getting involved from the design stage itself.

This year, he said, the company would get into what are called super giant dump truck wheels, where the wheel and tyre put together are about 13 feet tall.

The first supply would be to Caterpillar for its plant at Tiruvallur, near Chennai.

After that, Wheels India would look at using the Titan distribution channel as the aftermarket for these wheels was quite large.

The company would also look at servicing mines in Australia and South Africa, where large-sized dump trucks were used. There was an aftermarket for parts, which the company hoped to develop.

Wheels India hopes to grow the air suspension business too this year.

It has a technical tie-up with Trelleborg of Sweden. Last year, the company sold about 500 units, which will go up to 900 this year.

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