Vehicle detailing and care have become essential parts of any vehicle owner's regular maintenance cycle. While organised car detailing is somewhat new in the Indian context, one name that is almost synonymous with car detailing, 3M, has set high aspirations from the Indian market in the near term. We spoke to Ninad Gadgil, Division Manager, Automotive Aftermarket, 3M for an insight into 3M's business in India.
While the future looks promising, the current market slowdown has had an impact on the Automotive Aftermarket Division (AAD) of 3M, as many of its products are used for new cars. But AAD measures its business by the service traffic growth and the repair order growth, which has been satisfactory, Gadgil said. Although AAD has been in the aftermarket since 2005, the last two years have seen good growth, he said.
3M's AAD consists of two business lines – collision repair and auto care business. While it is known for its auto care business, Gadgil pointed out that the collision repair business was introduced in the Indian market two decades back in 1993, and supplies products equally to OEM-owned, as well as unorganised workshops.
The only product that 3M AAD does not manufacture for collision repairs is the paint itself, but products used inside the booth, like 3M Dirt Trap Protection System, booth filters, and paint preparation systems are manufactured by the company. "The car detailing business is nascent here in India, and awareness is being created only now," Gadgil explained.
3M AAD has presence in about 400 authorised two-wheeler dealerships across leading manufacturers, including Bajaj Auto, HMSI, Yamaha and TVS. Its products are also made available through the spare parts retail counters of the two-wheeler OEMs. A number of C and D workshops also use its products.
BUSINESS AND EXPERTISE
The AAD accounts for about 15 % of revenues of 3M India, and it has some unique solutions that differentiate it from competition. The emphasis is on launching products that are new, unique and differentiated from competition, Gadgil said. Furthermore, apart from differentiated products, the overall advice and guidance to its customers on the proper use of those products is something that 3M claims as a unique offering.
One of the newest products launched by 3M AAD is its Scotchgard Paint Protection Film, which was launched in June 2012. This film provides abrasion resistance and helps reduce the number of scratches on a car, which results in lesser repairs and touch-ups by the owner. Manufactured in the USA, this product was launched in Bangalore and Pune, and within two months, was taken to the rest of the country, Gadgil noted. The company is now in the process of launching this system at car dealerships.
3M GermKleen Treatment for car interiors was launched in the last quarter of 2012, and is a product that was developed locally for the Indian market. People in India tend to spend a lot of time in their cars due to traffic woes, and also consume food and beverages while inside their cars. This leads to microbial growth in the interiors that the GermKleen treatment addresses, with a claim of 99 % bacteria removal.
Another product that was completely developed in India recently was the Ventura dust extraction machine. This machine is used with hand sanders to provide a dust-free environment, and works on a capillary or venturi action, thus erasing the need for electricity.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
The company invests about 5-6 % of its annual revenue on R&D, and has three centres in India, at Bangalore, Gurgaon and Pune. While the Pune facility is a small laboratory, Bangalore operates as a laboratory and innovation centre. The Bangalore facility has a full-fledged paint booth for training, and seats a bulk of the product development engineers from India. Meanwhile, Gurgaon houses a customer technical centre. This facility showcases a range of 3M technologies, and is a place to bring in customers and provide training on products relating to collision repair and auto care. The main goal of these centres is to bring out products that cater to the exclusive needs of Indian customers.
3M AAD also has a strong presence in the market pertaining to sealants, which are used in replacing windshields and as body sealants at weld spots. The windshield sealant is used in application of windshields for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, as well. Gadgil said that the company is seriously evaluating the possibility of entering the commercial vehicle segment in the future.
Text: Naveen Arul