Our Bureau

Pune, Jan. 6

TYRE manufacturer Michelin on Friday said that while its plan to manufacture a range of tyres in collaboration with Apollo Tyres is still on track, the company would wait for the country's slow adoption of radial tyres to gather speed, before it started work on the manufacturing front.

Talking to the press here, Mr Herve Dub, CEO, Michelin India, said the penetration of radial tyres in the Indian market is less than 1 per cent currently, which makes it unviable to set up manufacturing facilities here, despite the fact that Michelin Apollo Tyres has bought land at the Ranjangaon industrial estate near Pune. "We have realigned our partnership with Apollo in this regard so that both of us can tap the immediate growth opportunities in the market.

"Michelin's strategy will be to grow our truck and bus tyres business significantly along with focussing on the passenger car side," Mr Dub said.

He pointed out that the pace of radialisation and adoption of advanced technology by the domestic truck and bus industry was not in keeping with the company's initial estimates.

While penetration of radial tryes in Europe, the US and Thailand was a 100, 85 and 30 per cent respectively, it is 1 per cent in India, he pointed out.

"This leaves us with a huge window of opportunity to tap," he said.

Michelin will grow its business by tapping the seven-lakh-unit-a-month replacement market and the 7,000-unit first time sales market for radial tyres.

"With the quality and quantity of trucks in the market growing rapidly, the market is picking up and we will further grow it by educating the trucking community about the benefits of adopting radial tyres which gives better fuel economy and longer life," he said.

The company on Friday also launched Michelin Priority Partner, a multi-brand tyre retailing store where it will display a range of tyres for cars and other passenger vehicles and offer customers one-stop destination for all tyre-related issues.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 7, 2006)
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