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BW Businessworld

Ola And Uber Have Created A Megatrend: P.K. Walia, VP, Consumer Business, Goodyear India

While talking to BW Businessworld recently, P.K. Walia, Vice-President, Consumer Business, Goodyear India affirmed that it is keeping its eyes on shared mobility service providers like Ola and Uber as an emerging business vertical

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American multinational tyre manufacturing firm Goodyear supplies its products to many of the leading original equipment manufacturers in India and across the world. While talking to BW Businessworld recently, P.K. Walia, Vice-President, Consumer Business, Goodyear India affirmed that it is keeping its eyes on shared mobility service providers like Ola and Uber as an emerging business vertical. Below are the edited excerpts:

What is the USP of Assurance Triplemax 2 which you have just launched?  Most importantly, will it be a gamechanger for the company?

The USP of this product is basically a shorter braking distance on wet roads. The key point is safety. We have already launched Assurance Triplemax 1 in 2015 which was also a groundbreaking tyre at that time in terms of shorter braking distance and also got a great response. This (Assurance Triplemax 2) is an improved version of Assurance Triple Max 1. So it will have a shorter braking distance but we have also added lower noise and better durability.  

So is this compatible with BS-VI emission norms?

No, the tyres are not compatible with BS-VI (emission) compliant vehicle. The emission norms are more vehicle-centric. We will be offering those products (e-vehicle tyres) as well. We will be offering it to all the OEMs and depending upon the vehicle compliant status, we will go with it.

How have disruptive forces like GST and demonetisation impacted your business? Have you been able to come out of it?

Both GST and demonetisation were reforms that were carried out ostensibly for long-term benefits. But like any big initiative, there are disruptions in the short term. We have handled those disruptions very well as the rest of the (tyre) industry has. We have moved on (from that difficult phase). I can say, to a large part, this is behind us now. As a large (tyre) manufacturer, it simplifies the tax structure. In that sense, it is beneficial. I would say the overall impact on us is (just) okay. 

Has the current govt’s make-in-India initiative given a boost to your industry and also to your company?

We have always been manufacturing locally and have not been importing much. So we have been very self-reliant as far as the production (of tyres) is concerned. We have also been making investments at the right time to augment our (manufacturing) capacity and capability. So that will continue. On the exports side, we are more focussed and centric in India. We have established our operations to serve the Indian consumers and that is our focus. 

What are the current challenges that the tyre industry is grappling with right now?

The cost headwinds are always an issue. The commodity prices and volatility are always an issue. We have to just manage in that environment of volatility. 

As you know that shared mobility has gained a lot of eminence in India. So do you foresee enhanced business opportunities with Ola and Uber?

From an urban congestion point of view and as an emerging megatrend, shared mobility needs to be watched on how much penetration it will achieve. Definitely, it is something that nobody can ignore. The ridesharing and all have far-ranging implications as they go much beyond the vehicle industry and tyre industry. It is something we are still studying. But the good thing is whether it is Uber or Ola or a personal car, they all need tyres.

Are you also well geared for electric vehicles? 

The electric vehicles will also need tyres. The tyres maybe have to be attuned (with EVs) and we are already working on this. We will be ready whenever the market needs it. We are at an all-time ready-to-deliver tyres that the vehicle manufacturer needs. In fact, some of the concept tyres that we have talked about are future-ready. Having said that, we have to build the capabilities as and when there is a need. But if the technology exists, we can move it anywhere in the world. That is a decision that we have to take at that point on whether that is the right investment for the (domestic) market or not. 

Lastly, what is your vision for the company?

We want to lead with innovation, deliver the best products to our consumer and be the first with our consumers with the best products with the widest range of network for our customers so that people have our products available whenever (and) wherever they need them. 

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