An exclusive interview with Mr. Christian Tricart, Resident Representative, Michelin Tyres Pakistan.
MOBILE WORLD: Michelin is the world market leader. Is company’s emphasis on R&D and resultant innovations the major reason of its popularity world over, or are there other attributes to Michelin’s top position?
Christian Tricart: R&D an old tradition of Michelin Company. The reason behind its top position and popularity is its policy of looking after the interest of consumers and widespread know-how. All the Michelin products are a result of its 5 to 10 years of research, which is in the anticipation of consumers’ expectations. It has always been the sign of success for Michelin.
We have invented a new concept of tire as “PAX SYSTEM” which delays the usage of spare wheel and gives better safety for the driver, because with the Pax System you can run your car 200kms of distance at maximum speed of 80km/hr with no pressure at all or with puncture tire. Pax System was invented by Michelin in 1996. Its consists of four key features:
- A tire with a unique bead lock
- A run flat insert that allows the vehicles to continue operating if tire pressure is lost
- A special wheel that accommodates both the unique bead and the run-flat insert; and a tire pressure warning system.
Today, Pax System has become a new standard. It is poised to become a new standard in tire technology for the 21st century. Pax System is more than a tire; it is an integrated system offering improved performance, mobility, security and major options in vehicle design. Since introduction Pax System has gained Pirelli and Goodyear as a technology partners. It has been tested on variety of platforms, from economy cars to sports utility vehicles. It has been universally hailed by the automotive press as breakthrough technology.
Pax System features “vertical anchoring” a revolutionary technique for attaching the tire to the wheel. The bead area anchors the tire to the wheel and eliminates the transitional zone between wheel and sidewall. Additionally, the tire is dynamically locked against the wheel to make losing the tire during a loss of air pressure impossible.
Pax System translates into lower tire temperatures, fewer energy losses, less casing fatigue and, unlike traditional tires which use air pressure to secure the tire to the wheel, elimination of bead unseating, even at zone pressure. The tire also provides lower rolling resistance for improved handling, security and mobility at zero pressure without affecting other tire qualities.
For improved security, Pax System includes a sensor that warns the driver of air-pressure loss in the tire. At zero pressure, the tire rests against a support ring that allows the tire to turn freely and the vehicle to travel at 80 km/hr for 200kms distance.
Michelin, Pirelli and Goodyear in June this year have announced an historic agreement that they will cooperate to provide auto manufacturers and consumers with significant new choices in this run-flat tire systems.
This is an example of the attitude adopted by Michelin through which it looks 10 years ahead for its customers. There are more than 4000 engineers working in Michelin Research Centers.
MW: Till the end of the year 1998, Michelin and Bridgestone were running neck and neck with the former having a slight edge over the latter. Now, with the recent Bridgestone/Firestone scandal, its customers have awarded contracts to Michelin. This apparently, seems a very good opportunity for your company to establish its complete hold. Won’t you agree?
CT: For the worldwide tire industry it is a bad thing. It proves that we cannot afford to have any compromise with quality. It is a short view to comment on this episode. I will not comment because this is not a good sign.
MW: Is Michelin also the market leader in Asia? If not, what efforts have you made to make Michelin a household name in this part of the world? How successful have you been in your efforts?
CT: To assume the image of the company as number on, tow or three is not a major target. Our target is to make us suitable and affordable to any kind of user in each segment of the market. We consider Asia as a different market compared with Europe and USA, different in the sense that it is not a unified market, which means we have to consider our marketing efforts country to country. Regarding Asia, we have got a 6% share of total market, which is representative but not sufficient according to our aim. This is why for instance we have doubled the production capacities in our Thailand factories.
MW: Michelin operating for over a hundred years is the pioneer of a number of popular products like the Radials. Would you care to enumerate the most popular products introduced by your company?
CT: Michelin had started as a manufacturer of bicycle removable tire; afterwards we made tires for car, truck and light truck. Michelin has been inventor of Radial tires for passenger cars, light trucks, motorbikes, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, aircraft and space shuttle. Michelin has been well known for its “Radial tires”, and now we are producing only Radial tire the world over.
MW: Pakistan, obviously, is not a big enough market for establishing a manufacturing facility, but you are running a commercial office here. Is it because the domestic market is growing swiftly and has a large capacity to expand? How big a market do you foresee for Michelin?
CT: Our commercial office is Anis Tyre Corporation. Michelin is represented here since more than 19 years. We have introduced Radial technology in Pakistan. I am here to support and bring technical assistance to our users, dealers and importer in Pakistan. Pakistan is a very important market; especially its imports and exports are carried by road transport, so this is very important market and it needs help.
MW: Have any of the local manufacturers of automobiles contracted Michelin for supply of ties etc. for their vehicles?
CT: No. we do not supply to any local manufacturer due to the deletion program imposed by the Government.
MW: How many products Michelin has introduced in Pakistan? Which is the most popular? What is the damage ratio of Michelin tires considering the roads in the country?
CT: Passenger car tires, light truck tire, tractor tie, aircraft tire, earthmovers tire, fork-lifter tire are well introduced in Pakistan by Michelin, and these are more than 100 type of tires. However, truck tire is the most popular product in Pakistan. The ratio of damage is very small and similar to the other countries having identical operating conditions like Middle East countries, having same temperature and over loading culture.
MW: Presently, only one local tire manufacturer of any repute is operating in Pakistan. It is neither able to fulfill the qualitative needs of the customers nor the quantitative requirements. Don’t you think, Pakistan with its growing tire market, will be a suitable site for the next manufacturing plant of Michelin?
CT: Keeping this in view, Michelin is looking after such opportunity. If there is any, we might consider to have some manufacturing plants here in Pakistan. But you cannot consider it for only one country, it is a huge investment, for which we will make a detailed survey and then decide.
-Published on pages# 18-19 in December-2000 edition of MOBILE WORLD Magazine