What will be the key trends that will affect the tyre industry, what will be the key opportunities and threats? Here are some of the answers.
A Look on the Tyre Industry
2019 marks 50 years since the first edition of The Tyreman was published. A lot has changed in the tyre industry since then, but anniversaries also make you start to think about the future, what will happen to the tyre industry in the next 50 years. What will be the key trends that will affect the industry, what will be the key opportunities and threats that manufacturers and distributors will have to face? In a special feature marking a half century of the specialist press in Malaysia, we decided to approach some of the leading executives within the tyre industry and ask for their perspective on how they expect our industry to develop in the future. Here are their answers.
What do you anticipate will be the key trends that will affect the Malaysian tyre market in the coming years?
Tommy Kim – Managing Director, Hankook Tire Malaysia Sdn Bhd
The global automotive industry has entered a period of low growth due to slowing demand and intensifying competition in major countries, and uncertainties in the market are growing due to simultaneous environmental changes, such as the US-China trade war and tightening environmental regulations.
Competitor products are getting closer and closer, consumers know how to choose the products they use every day, so key brands no longer have market influence. Of course, due to brand reliability and brand image, there is still a certain range of products still dominated by brands. It is now clear that all products are driven by price factors every day, all of which are due to economic factors.
Victor Siew – General Manager, Apollo Tyres (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
There has been a great deal of economic pressure in Malaysia in recent years, which has affected the whole industry. Malaysia has over 90 brands active in the tyre market, making it one of the most competitive markets in the region. The major manufacturers have been very aggressive in defending their markets, whilst the Chinese have also been aggressive in trying to gain market share. We expect this trend to continue.
Tushar Gupta, Managing Director, Michelin, for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei
One of the key trends is in the way Malaysians consume tyres. Consumers are more and more focusing on quality, safety and performance when making their purchase decisions. As a leader in tyre safety, Michelin believes in providing long-lasting tyres with uncompromising quality to consumers while initiating road safety programmes. That is why it is important for us and all other tyre manufacturers to educate consumers to make the right choice.
Consumers are also changing the way they purchase their tyres and putting more value on the overall consumer experience. Over the past years, we observe the emergence of fast-fitters like Tyreplus that offer a best of class service experience with great prices along with many other services like oil or battery changes.
What will be the main opportunities and what will be the key challenges that leading tyre manufacturers will have to face?
I think leading tyre manufacturers need to adjust their channel strategy and reposition. Today, technology and the Internet of Things have completely changed consumer buying behaviour and perceptions. We also foresee that these are major changes and how we make changes to accommodate these changes will be crucial. At the same time, we need to upgrade our internal systems and compete with market demand. Without any advanced services, it is difficult to compare with competitors.
In terms of opportunities, the focus is likely to be more on sustaining a position in the market rather than on growth. If you can sustain then the opportunities will arise to grow in the future. An important challenge will be building the right team and acquiring the right people to support customers. Speed of reaction is key, and we believe one of our key strengths is in our relationships and our ability to react quickly to market demands. For the long term our aim is to be the best service provider. It is impossible to maintain a market position on price alone.
We believe that the Malaysian market will remain strong despite lower consumption this year. Exceeding the World Bank’s projection, Malaysian GDP has expanded to 4.9 per cent, from 4.5 per cent in the last quarter – all while the country blooms its automotive industry with new innovative technologies.
Being at the forefront of tyre safety and innovation in Malaysia, we also find the emergence of China-branded tyres to be a challenge for tyre manufacturers worldwide. As always, we will continue to be the voice of road safety in Malaysia and will never compromise on any aspects of what makes Michelin tyres the leading tyre globally.
Which will be the key technological developments in tyre manufacture and fleet management that will impact most?
With today’s technology, most manufacturers try to separate from each other and how to make consumers choose your brand as their preferred brand. Most fleet users always emphasise how to save costs and reduce downtime.
From a manufacturer’s position, we can say that everyone invests a lot of research and development funds to ensure the production of competitive products and meet the needs of the fleet. I think everyone is looking for new materials and meeting this requirement.
Vitally important will be the area of software for the management of commercial fleets. Although the Malaysian market is mature in terms of brands, it is not yet mature in terms of technology. The provision of services to enable fleets to manage their tyre performance will be of key importance in the future.
Michelin is no stranger to pioneering technological developments in this sector. Early this year, we announced the new generation of airless wheel technology for passenger vehicles developed in collaboration with General Motors – called the Unique Puncture-proof Tyre System (UPTIS). The airless tyre will require near-zero maintenance, maximising efficiency for operators of passenger vehicles. The UPTIS is now being developed by our engineers for introduction as early as 2024.
More recently, Michelin launched the new Michelin Energy XM2+ with the tagline: “Your Stopping Superpower”, targeting young and budget-conscious consumers who look for tyres with safety and performance that last. Developed to outperform its previous generation in wet braking, it offers ultimate safety – both when new, and throughout its useful life. The tyre also offers longer mileage that outlasts other premium tyre manufacturers** by 25 per cent, making it more affordable and value for money for the younger owners of small or mid-size cars.
Our efforts for improving fleet management services in Malaysia are also reflected in our introduction of TyrePlus outlets. With a wide network of dealers across Malaysia, Michelin has harmonised excellent customer service with rising customer expectations nationwide.
How do you propose to face up to the major challenge posed by the Chinese tyre manufacturers, and in which areas will they pose the greatest challenge – pricing? Technology? Branding?
Basically, pricing plays a crucial role. Technology is getting closer and closer, and no doubt their marketing a branding strategies will follow suit.
The Chinese brands have tended to focus on price, especially the budget brands. We are trying to stay away from price competition and are focusing on people and customer support to assure the sustainability of our brand. The purchase of cheap brands is essentially a short-term measure, which cannot be viable in the long term, but short-term measures have hit the market hard. This has been a major challenge and an area where we are hoping for government support so fleets can think about things other than on a short-term basis.
We believe that the quality of our products speaks for itself. Unlike, China-branded tyres which mostly aim to sell tyres at very low prices, Michelin, on the other hand, prioritises providing high quality tyres with great safety features to customers. Michelin products are made with the customer’s safety in mind providing shorter braking distances than competitors and this throughout the lifespan of the product. With clearly different targeted customer groups, we continue to stand unshaken by the presence of these brands.
What are your key aims for progression in the Malaysian and ASEAN markets over the coming years, and what will be the focus of your efforts to help achieve your goals?
For the Hankook Tire strategy, we have kept focusing on the balanced growth in the markets. We cannot be separated from the main reasons of cultural needs and geographical factors. Of course, every manufacturer also wants to develop more retailers and strengthen the network, but this is not the case. In order to gain market share in the ASEAN region, we need to strengthen brand activities and build more brand awareness, especially in the consumer sector. Hankook Tire is still new in the region and still needs to work hard to achieve this goal.
One of our key aims is to build the Apollo network of dealers. For example, we recently opened our first Truck Tyre Zone in Batu Pahat., which is kitted out with branded machinery. We are ready to invest in the business over here and have already invested in brand awareness in areas such as billboards on the motorway near KLIA. We have also been helped by our association with Manchester United. Over time, we hope our brand image will improve.
We hope to continue providing road safety education to our fellow Malaysian drivers, especially when it comes to tyre wear and safety. We have mobilised many road safety campaigns over the years, including our most recent campaign in May 2019, the Michelin Safe on the Road (MSOR) campaign that was our widest outreach programme drivers across Malaysia. Safety will always be at the heart of what we do, so we do hope to see a safer Malaysia come 2020.
How do you foresee increasing digitalisation and the role of the internet and social media impacting the way you do business in the future?
Of course, we can’t deny that this digitalisation has a huge impact on all tyre manufacturers, for example through the increased transparency of retail prices. It is very unfortunate that some people abuse it and cause everyone to suffer. In other words, if they apply it correctly and use it as a marketing tool, they can save costs and attract more customers. We want everyone to maintain healthy competition and improve their service levels, not price.
We think the development of digital tyre sales will be difficult, as this is a service-oriented market. We need a network before we start thinking about digital sales. The use of social media to promote sales, though is growing, especially in the PCR market, where there is a growing need to be fast and receptive to customer enquiries.
Michelin has an established digital presence combining social media engagements and media advertising on many major digital platforms. To remain at the forefront of digital innovation, we maintain interaction with our customers digitally including constant updates and announcements on our local Facebook page – that has a following of over 180,000 fans, and an interactive website for customers to browse our entire portfolio of tyres available locally and worldwide.
** Longevity test conducted by China Automotive Technology and Reseach Center Co.,Ltd (CATARC) (an independent 3rd party), on Michelin‘s request, in September 2018 in TianJin, China, on dimension 205/55 R16 91V on VolksWagen Golf 7 comparing Michelin Energy XM2+ versus Premium Competitors (figures represent the average of 5 other premium brands). Longevity test run in average real usage with 20,000 km run and estimated longevity at the depth of Tread Wear Indicator.
2019 年是《轮胎世界》出刊至今的第50 个年头。轮胎行业从那时起，经历了许多改变。周年纪念日也让您开始思考未来，未来50 年轮胎行业又会发生什么事？这个行业会受哪些主要趋势所影响，轮胎制造商和经销商会有哪些商机 和威胁？ 作为马来西亚走过半个世纪的轮胎专业杂志专题报道，我们决定与轮胎业里的几位高管谈谈，听听他们对未来轮胎行业会的发展和看法。以下是他们的答案。
我认为领先轮胎制造商需要调整他们的策略渠道和重新定位。今天，技术和物联网（Internet of things） 已经彻底改变消费者的购买行为和观念。我们也预见了这些主要改变，关键在于我们如何做出改变来适应它们。与此同时，我们需要提升我们的内部系统，并与市场需求竞争。没有先进的服务，很难与竞争者竞争。
尽管今年的消费量比较低，我们相信马来西亚市场会持续保持强劲。马来西亚的国内生产总值（GDP) 超越世界银行的预测，从最后一季的4.5%增长至4.9% – 当马来西亚一直以新创的科技推动汽车工业发展。
米其林是这方面的技术先锋。今年年初，我们公布了与通用汽车公司（General Motors)一同研发，称为“独特防刺破系统”（UPTIS)的新一代 无气轮胎 。该无气轮胎几乎无需维修，最大化提升轿车胎用户的效率。目前，我們的工程師正在开发UPTIS，預计最早可在2024年引入乘用车。
米其林近期推出标语为“Your Stopping Superpower” 的最新米其林Energy XM2+，目标客户是那些想要有安全且性能持久，讲求实惠的年轻消费者。该轮胎在湿地制动方面，比上一代更强。它在全新和整个使用寿命中，提供终极安全。米其林Energy XM2+的里程数比其他优质轮胎**长了25%，这使它对较年轻的中小型车主来说更经济实惠。
建立阿波罗代理网络是我们的主要目标之一。比如，我们近日在峇株巴辖（Batu Pahat) 开设了第一家配备知名轮胎服务机器设备的卡车轮胎区（Truck Tyre Zone）。我们已经准备好投资在这里的业务上，并在靠近吉隆坡国际机场高速公路的广告牌上打广告，以提高品牌知名度。我们也获利于曼联的合作。我们希望我们的品牌形象将随着时间的推移而有所改善。
**米其林要求独立的第三方—中国汽车技术及研究中心有限公司（CATARD) 于2018年9月在中国天津，将安装在大众Golf 7, 规格为205/55R16 91V的米其林Energy XM 2+ ，与其他优质竞争者（数字代表其他5个优质品牌的平均值）进行使用寿命测试比较。平均实际运行20,000公里，并以胎面磨损标志的厚度来评估使用寿命。