Industry Insights: Interview with Dominique Aimon, Vice-President of Technical and Scientific Communication, Michelin
Published On 17-Jun-2021
[caption id="attachment_976" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Michelin is one of the fastest growing tyre manufacturers in the country.[/caption]
Michelin is unarguably one of the fastest growing tyre manufacturers in the country. Going by what it has in store in terms of future business plans and products for the Indian market, it is inevitable that soon Michelin will become a major force in the Indian tyre industry.
The French tyre company started its operations in India just over a decade ago and today, it sells products in passenger car, truck and bus, two-wheeler and OTR (off the road) segments. The company has a TBR (truck and bus radial) tyre manufacturing facility in Chennai that kick-started operations in July 2013. Recently, it also announced entering a JV with TVS Tyres to manufacture two-wheeler tyres using the Indian manufacturer’s production facility in Madurai.
[caption id="attachment_880" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Michelin is among the top three tyre manufacturer in the world[/caption]
Globally, Michelin is present in over 170 nations and it has 68 production plants in 18 countries. Also, it goes without mentioning the fact that Michelin is one among the top three tyre manufacturing firms in the world along with Bridgestone and Goodyear.
While Michelin is famous for its tyres across different segments including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, motorcycles, earthmovers, farm equipment and trucks, etc., the company is mostly known for bringing technological advancements in the tyre industry like no other. For example, the introduction of radial tyre in 1946 was one of the key innovations by Michelin.
[caption id="attachment_834" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Porsche 919 Hybrid won the 2015 Le Mans 24H on Michelin Tyres[/caption]
Other than its products and technology, Michelin is also known for actively participating in motorsport activities. The manufacturer currently supplies tyres to Formula E Series while 2016 onwards, it will be the sole-supplier for MotoGP. Only a few days ago, Michelin participated for the bid to become a three-year tyre supplier for Formula One starting from 2017-19. Among other motorsport events, Michelin supports Le Mans Series, Dakar Rally, WRC (World Rally Championship), etc.
[caption id="attachment_977" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Dominique Aimon[/caption]
To discuss everything you have read in the previous page, I fortunately had a brief encounter with Dominique Aimon, Vice-President of Technical and Scientific Communication at the Michelin Group, a little while ago in New Delhi. There, we discussed a number of topics including the Indian tyre market, Michelin products, motorsport, etc. Here are the excerpts:
TyreDekho: Michelin is known for its technologically-advanced tyres. Since a lot of investment goes into the R&D of such products, the selling costs of a tyre increases by a fair bit as well; something that is reflected on the tyres Michelin sell over here. How well do you think these ‘premium’ products go with 'cost-conscious buyers' in India?
Dominique Aimon: Michelin has always believed in providing value to its customers. Anything we develop or will bring in the coming time is aimed at benefiting our customers. A low rolling resistance tyre for instance lowers the overall drag of a car resulting in increased fuel efficiency and concurrently cutting down on its carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time, every tyre undergoes stringent quality checks from safety and longevity point of view. Michelin has strict quality control policies and ensures that absolute best products go to the customer. In today’s time, most of the customers are aware of these facts and are willing to invest in a tyre because of the value they get in return.
That said, we are also focusing on educating our customers about these technologies in an effective manner in order to make them understand the worth of our tyres.
[caption id="attachment_978" align="alignnone" width="560"] Michelin believes Indian customers are now aware than ever about tyre technologies and their benefits[/caption]
TD: Indian road conditions are described as one of the toughest in the world with almost all the roads present with obstacles such as potholes, broken stretches, unpaved roads, etc. Often it has been seen that most international tyres, being made of soft compound, tend to get damaged due to this very fact. What modifications, if any, does Michelin make on their tyres in India?
DA: As you point out, driving conditions in India are indeed challenging and more so for a tyre. They impact a tyre’s running-life significantly. Before a tyre goes on sale in a specific region, our engineers and R&D team factor in all of these challenging driving conditions which a tyre may have to withstand. For example, in India we have the XM2 range of tyres from Michelin that are developed specifically to cater to the needs of Indian road conditions. The XM2 is developed for driving conditions that require a stronger casing structure, thus, providing good performance on difficult roads while not compromising on safety or grip.
In addition to that, we have more products lined up for India not only in passenger car segment but also for two-wheelers sold in the country.
[caption id="attachment_680" align="alignnone" width="800"] Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez in action during the Michelin Test Mugello[/caption]
TD: Coming to motorsports, Michelin has been named as the official tyre supplier for MotoGP 2016 onwards while it already supplies tyres in the Formula E series. Could you give us some insights on how motorsports affect tyre technology for road-going cars/bikes?
DA: At Michelin, we believe motorsports activities offer a fantastic and challenging way to devise new tyre technologies. And challenges are something that we love to face at Michelin, it’s what pushes us to try and put the best out of our capabilities. To our advantage, motorsports participants and manufacturers have also started adopting sustainable and environment-friendly technologies in recent times.
In Formula E Series, teams and drivers race their car on closed street circuits and not on bespoke racetracks. So, whatever tyre technology we develop during a race or over the full season, it is likely to find real world applications. Simply put, we would be taking the technology from road to road which is unlike F1 where it goes from track to road.
In MotoGP, we had been associated with the sport before as well, but over the time technology and more importantly the rules and regulations of the sport and prototype racing have evolved with some drastic modifications. However, like I said earlier, we are always open to such challenges and are looking forward to it.
[caption id="attachment_760" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Always maintain correct air pressure on your vehicle's tyres, advised Dominique Aimon[/caption]
TD: Would you like to give some useful insights to our readers regarding tyres?
DA: Always check and inflate your vehicle’s tyres to correct/optimum pressure. This will ensure a smoother drive, and will save you considerable amount of fuel per outing; chances of damages or uneven wearing on tyre will be reduced while tail-pipe emissions will also go down significantly over the time.