Bridgestone India launches new drive axle tyre for commercial vehicles

Tyre maker Bridgestone India on Friday launched a new tyre, V-Steel Mix M721, for commercial vehicles to establish a strong presence in the drive axle tyre category.

The latest offering is specifically for the general cargo, long haul and highway application, and seeks to target the rapidly growing fleet segment, said Bridgestone India Managing Director Parag Satpute at the virtual launch.

Bridgestone India, which is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan, has its presence in both passenger and commercial segments, and caters to both aftermarket and the original equipment (OE) space.

The company has two manufacturing facilities, one each at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh and Chakan in Pune, which cater to almost the domestic market demand.

The commercial vehicle segment is focussed on optimising total cost of operations to achieve higher profitability. The V-STEEL Mix M721 is targeted towards the general cargo segment, which is the largest portion of the CV segment and delivers 15 per cent extra tyre mileage and subsequent reduction in cost per kilometre (CPK) for the fleet operators, said Satpute.

Priced at 7-10 per cent higher than other comparable Bridgestone tyres, the V-Steel Mix M721 is a combination of low rolling resistance compound, deeper tread depth and tie bar which enables extra tyre mileage and even wear, according to Satpute.

"What we would like to focus on while working with fleet customers is the total cost of ownership (TCO). This new product addresses the TCO," he said.

Over the past few years, this segment has grown rapidly and with its experience from the advanced economies, the company has helped in this process, Satpute added.

Bridgestone India's strategy is to aggressively grow its core tyre business, providing the right product and by building a wide servicing infrastructure for the highways for the fleet customers, he said.

Satpute added that the new product addresses the issues of both tyre fuel mileage and cut-chip resistance.

"The other focus is to provide higher value to our customers with our new business models such as pay per kilometer.

"With these business models, we look to leverage our expertise in tyre management and create a win-win situation for fleet operators," Satpute said.

Last month, Pune-based Bridgestone India announced an undisclosed investment in fleet management firm Fleeca India to strengthen its positioning in the digital application-based mobility solutions.

It will further strengthen its existing service Infrastructure for providing comprehensive tyre services across national highways.

In line with its global journey of becoming a mobility solution, Bridgestone India is working towards providing end-to-end tyre management solutions to its customers, Satpute said.

Bridgestone India has started doing this (services like pay per kilometre) as a new business model and it is making good progress and it remains the core part of the strategy going forward, he said.

The company started the 'pay per km' business model for the fleet segment in 2018 but started scaling it up from 2020.

"Today, it is a commercially available solution from Bridgestone. We have a dedicated team for PPK business and it is growing rapidly.

"We are investing in this space and we are committed to bring the technology to the Indian market," he said.

On the overall India business, Satpute said India is still a developing market and therefore, there is a lot of growth in the OE segment. "Overall, we have a strong position in the tyre business in India and our ambition is to become one of the leading players in the TBR (truck and bus radial) space in the country."

Satpute said that 2020 was a "unique" year, owing to the emergence of the pandemic that brought all economic activities to a halt for nearly two months.

However, from August-September onwards, industrial activities started coming back and 2021 is expected to continue with that momentum.

"We are mindful that COVID-19 is still around, there are countries around the world who are in the second and third wave... but there is a lot of positivity because of the vaccine. I am cautiously optimistic about 2021," he said.

Bridgestone India has a high emphasis on providing tyre management solutions and will continue to develop its network with both PV and CV segments getting a lot of focus, he said.

The company has a "very robust" product line in the next few years, he added.

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