Apollo to launch Vredestein Tyres in India: How it plans to disrupt luxury car, bike segment

Apollo Tyres will introduce a range of tyres for luxury cars as well as premium performance bikes with its Dutch brand Vredestein in India very soon. Satish Sharma, President of Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa operations at Apollo spoke with us to talk about their strategy and how Apollo hopes to dominate the segment.

By:Updated: Apr 09, 2021 2:42 PM

Apollo Tyres, India’s indigenous premium tyre manufacturer and largest tyre exporter, has big plans to expand in the Indian market. Apollo Tyres is looking to provide shoes for all luxury cars and performance and premium bikes in the Indian market. Apollo over the years has acquired two companies globally, and now it is gearing up to launch its Dutch brand Vredestein in India. The brand is looking to tap the luxury car market in India and is also working towards becoming an OEM partner with luxury carmakers. Speaking with Express drives, Satish Sharma, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at Apollo Tyres shed some light on what we can expect from its new venture in the Indian market.

Apollo had earlier attempted to introduce the Vredestein brand to India through the import route. However, Sharma said that the volumes and the longer lead times did not result in a favourable customer experience.

Industry climate now in Apollo’s favour

Since then, there have been two major developments in India for the tyre industry. Firstly, Apollo is now manufacturing Vredestein tyres in India for the better part of the last decade. All of which were being exported to Europe. But the second and equally important part of making Vredestein possible and viable in Indian this time around is the import restriction on tyres which were announced by the Indian government recently.

While many premium international tyre makers found themselves restricted by the new law, Apollo is looking to use it to their advantage. With the Vredestein brand, Apollo is expanding their web to gain market share in the replacement as well as OEM chain.

Satish Sharma, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa Apollo Tyres Ltd.

Sharma said “As Indians, we can be very proud that we have a very mature tyre industry. India can emerge as a strong manufacturer of tyres for the world. Not only as Indian brands catering to the global demand, but also global companies coming to India and setting up shop, which has been the case for many big players already”

Apollo will be launching the Vredestein brand with six SKUs and expand the portfolio to about 21 SKUs this fiscal year. These will cater solely for the luxury car market. Vredestein tyres will range between 17-inch to 19-inch sizes. Sharma also mentioned that the premium brand will not cater to the demand for the compact mass-market models for the time being.

In 2016, Apollo entered the two-wheeler tyre space and is now also planning to expand its footprint with Vredestein. Through its Dutch brand, Apollo will offer products for premium performance and luxury bikes as well. Details on those tyres are currently under wraps, but Sharma confirmed they will cater to the premium and performance bike segments above the 250cc category in India.

Vredestein’s passenger luxury car tyres will see their market launch take place in mid-April 2021. It will be followed by the launch of the two-wheeler tyres. Performance and touring bike owners can expect these tyres to be available by mid-May 2021.

As far as distribution is concerned, Sharma stated “We will be looking at the metros and mini-metros to start with. Our focus will be to take on only those dealerships which can cater to this customer segment.”

Apollo will tread with caution initially with the Vredestein brand. Initially, 30-40% of Apollo banded dealerships will cater to the Vredestein demand, and eventually, 70-80% of dealerships will be equipped to offer premium branded tyres.

The plan to dominate the luxury segment

While the initial phase of the plan for Vredestein is to enter the replacement market, Apollo is also looking to tie-up with luxury EOMs and cater to their needs in India by offering its products the same product in Europe as well.

Sharma stated “We will be approaching the OEMs in this [luxury] segment. The point is that the OEMs are not attracted to us is because volumes are very insignificant in India. But we plan to do is talk with the global headquarters of the brands and offer the same product in Europe to them, as well as in India. So, therefore, create a global account. We believe we might have some success and the initial response has been very good.”

As for the two-wheeler OEM supply is concerned, Sharma said that Apollo is in advance stages with two major brands in India and is at the initial phase of conversation with a third which is also a major brand. Although he did not confirm which particular brands Apollo is tying up with, Sharma did confirm that the first OEM partnership will be announced very soon.

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