Taiwanese tyre manufacturer Maxxis claims to be the largest two-wheeler tyre manufacturer and the ninth largest tyre company in the world (in terms of units sold). The company, which operates 21 manufacturing plants and five R&D centres globally, recently inaugurated its newest manufacturing facility at Sanand, Gujarat.
On the sidelines of the plant inauguration function, Auto Tech Review met up with Jia-Ciao Liou (Gary), Commercial Head, Maxxis Rubber India Pvt Ltd to understand the company’s focus areas, future tyre technologies and roadmap in India. The company’s global product portfolio includes tyres for passenger cars, two-wheelers, light trucks, trucks, buses, ATVs, and agricultural & industrial vehicles.
The company had commenced the first phase of production at its Sanand plant in August 2017. Maxxis has been selected as the original equipment tyre supplier for the largest-selling two-wheeler in the country – Honda Activa – and has been supplying tyres for the scooter since 2015. The Sanand plant currently manufactures tyres locally for Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI), among other OEMs as well as for the aftermarket. The plant features flexible manufacturing lines that have the capability to make tyres of varying sizes from 10 to 19 inch, Gary said.
The plant currently has a workforce of about 600 and is equipped to manufacture 20,000 tyres and 40,000 tubes per day in the initial phase. Maxxis has earmarked a total investment of over $ 400 mn (about ` 2,640 cr) in setting up this plant that is spread over an area of 106 acre. The Sanand facility is currently only manufacturing two-wheeler tyres and tubes, and the company has currently pumped in about $ 320 mn of the total investment. Maxxis is targeting a market share of 15 % of India’s two-wheeler tyre market within a timeframe of five years, Gary noted.
The production capacity of the Sanand plant will grow to a total of 60,000 two-wheeler tyres per day over the next two phases of expansion, without any change in the tube production capacity. Maxxis India has also drawn up plans to start manufacturing four-wheeler tyres once it concludes the third and final phase of the plant expansion by 2021. The company expects to build a production capacity of 12,000 four-wheeler tyres per day at the plant.
Maxxis’ Sanand plant currently imports 98 % of its raw materials for production. The company also supplies tyres to Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and Jeep, which are all imported at present. The company is also looking at expanding its product portfolio from Sanand to South Asia, and will further expand to Africa and Middle East countries in the coming years.
The plant also carries out development work for the customisation of products for the domestic market. While this does not include hardcore R&D for new tyres, it will mostly include designing products from its existing portfolio for various applications in the local context. Maxxis has lined up plans to turn the Sanand facility into a production hub, for which it will look at increasing its R&D functions in future, Gary stated.
TYRE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS
The company is focusing on technologies that will help reduce the rolling resistance of tyres, which increases fuel efficiency and enhances performance, Gary said. Maxxis is focusing on identifying and using appropriate rubber compounds. The company is also developing tyres that use multiple compounds, with each tyre focusing on providing a different type of result. These compounds vary to provide features such as low rolling resistance as well as improved grip.
The company claims to have the requisite knowledge to produce tyres for electric vehicles. In fact, Maxxis has products for EVs in its global portfolio, and can introduce its technology to the market quickly when needed, Gary added.
Maxxis is focusing on identifying the right products for the Indian market – it is closely working with OEMs on their new products. The company is carrying out rigorous testing thorough its riders across all terrains, to make products suitable for the entire market, Gary noted.
Maxxis’ access to a number of global OEMs across various international markets opens up a lot of doors that help it foray into newer geographies, Gary explained. However, the tyres are required to be designed specifically for each and every country, and must be ideal to perform in those specific road conditions, he noted. The company will look at its existing partnerships with OEMs in other countries and strive to build on that to enter into their supply chains.
Maxxis aims to emerge as one of the top five global tyre manufacturers by 2026; for which it expects the Indian market to play a vital role. Since India is the fastest growing two-wheeler market, it would additionally help the company achieve its target, Gary said. The company’s Sanand plant, which is the western-most manufacturing facility for Maxxis Global, would help increase the supply of products to more western markets, thereby enabling it to achieve its global growth targets, Gary concluded.
TEXT: Naveen Arul