Chinese tyre manufacturer Landsail Tires has entered the Indian tyre aftermarket with its newly-launched tyres. A subsidiary of China-based Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd., the company has signed a joint venture with the Delhi-based pneumatic tyre importer and logistics firm Vikas Retail Pvt. Ltd., to market the newly launched products.

Story by: Gunjan D. Bidani

Landsail Tires recently announced its descent into the Indian tyre aftermarket. Founded in 2010, a sub-brand of Sentury Tire USA, a subsidiary of China-based Qingdao Sentury Tire, the company will exhibit its newly-launched tyres. To market the new tyres, its division in India, has signed a joint venture with the Delhi-based pneumatic tyre importer and logistics firm, Vikas Retail Pvt. Ltd. The new tyres will be available in over 100 sizes and will cater to the passenger and commercial vehicle segment. “There is a very big market in India. Now we are supplying across North India and to Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west. The demand from the dealers in Punjab, UP and Delhi alone is huge. I never expected this kind of response from the dealers,” Bharat Mathur, Advisor of Landsail Tires in India said.

Clearing the air about being deemed as a distributor, the company wishes to rather function as an OE company. “I don’t want to call myself a distributor. We are working as a company and we have offices in Delhi, Punjab, Jodhpur, Mumbai, and UP. The idea is to make Landsail a household brand here. Very soon we will have offices in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kerala”said Mathur. Priced competitively, Landsail Tires come with an unconditional warranty

upto two years. So far the brand has witnessed maximum numbers in the high-end segment of passenger vehicles. Besides passenger vehicles, the company also caters to the demand for light trucks and SUVs, and also to crossovers utility vehicles claimed to be engineered and produced under the leadership of a European technology team. The company takes pride having of a clientele that includes companies like Audi, Volkswagen, Mahindra, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, Maruti Suzuki, Ford, Porsche, Tata Motors and Honda to name a few.

Challenging Indian market

Being Indian tyre market dominated by established brands like Apollo Tyres, JK Tyres, MRF, Goodyear India and Michelin, Mathur admitted that the market is a challenging one to penetrate for the company. Speaking about the competition he said, “The tyre market in India can be penetrated only with high-quality products. Spending a good amount of money on technology and R&D is the way forward for us.” “Our strong back-end department of R & D has enabled us to enjoy a five per cent market share in the USA and it will be a similar growth curve in India,” he added.

Key differentiator

Due to The off-road characteristics of Indian roads ,the vehicles need to ply on tyres demonstrating steel-belted strength and high endurance. To attain such characteristics, the tyre manufacturers need to apply tailor-made technologies to cope with the technical limitations of a tyre like rolling resistance. Speaking about key differentiators of Landsail Tires that could help the company prove its calibre on Indian roads, Mathur said, “Except for the national highways, the road conditions are generally rough in India. Before starting our business here, our tyres ran successfully on the African roads, which are much worse compared to the former.” He added,“Since we have a strong global presence, the feature to tackle rolling resistance is already being taken care of in all our tyres which are supplied in India”. Key differentiators pertaining to tyre safety, road grip, heat resistance, steerability, strong braking and the means to tackle the road friction were pointed out by Mathur. He also spoke about ‘tyre noise’ that the company is claimed to have gotten rid of by precise engineering with innovative tread patterns and compounding.

Overcoming market threats

In June 2019, the Indian government has imposed a countervailing duty on new pneumatic radial tyres including truck and bus radials above 16-inches imported from China for a period of five years. The Centre listed nearly eight tariff items and the duty ranges from 9.12 per cent to 17.57 per cent with an aim to create a level playing field for domestic manufacturers facing headwinds due to rising material costs and stagnant demand due to the slowdown in overall sales of the auto industry. Aimed at further narrowing down the price difference between the Chinese and domestic tyres and in turn, boost in the domestic tyre demand, the move was hailed as one that could turn out to be incrementally positive for tyre manufacturers. The expected replacement market, would see a higher inflow of tyres from the organised players. Mathur Explained,“Like other tyre brands, Landsail also faces serious threats from the cheap imported tyres as they are also held equal to other cheap tyres despite its quality and technology.” “Most of the expenses go into the technology of the tyre which encompasses compound chemicals, fuel efficiency and crucial safety parameters,” he added.

Expansion spree

With a strong R&D in place, Landsail Tires aspires to grow in the Indian tyre space. Betting big on the upcoming electrification drive, Mathur stated, “Landsail has got the technology patented for electric vehicles and we will work in the direction of electrification because electric cars are the future.” Targeting to sell over 50,000 tyres in the next two years in India, Landsail will look to enter international markets like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The company aims to break into the commercial vehicle segment by launchinmg truck radials. “The company is aware of the growing truck population in India and the commercial vehicle segment will be duly explored,” concluded Mathur. ACI

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