Dr. Seshu Bhagavathula is the new CTO of Apollo Tyres

Dr Seshu Bhagavathula is absorbed as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Apollo Tyres Limited, who will take care of the global initiatives  such as on tyre technology, research and new product development, for both passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle tyres.

Bhagavathula will be assisted by the research, technology and design teams across all geographies, according to a company statement.

Said Neeraj Kanwar, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Apollo Tyres said: “As we focus on the two key pillars of Marketing and Technology for the next phase of our growth, Dr Seshu, with his vast experience, will bring in the much needed synergy across locations. He would also help us in providing intelligent automotive solutions to our customers. His appointment further strengthens Apollo’s Leadership Team and gives the company’s growth agenda an added impetus.” Hlast assignment was with Great Wall Motor Company in China, where he served as the Vice President, Research & Development. Prior to this, he had spent a significant part of his career with Daimler AG at multiple locations, where he was responsible for product development and integration of engineering processes. Having worked in the automotive industry, both in commercial and passenger vehicle segments, his core areas of professional expertise has been in research and development, innovation and strategic analysis. Dr Seshu will be based out of Apollo Tyre’s Global R&D Centre in Enschede, the Netherlands.

Reacting to the new role, Dr Bhagavathula said: “I am excited by this opportunity and impressed by the possibilities the future holds with Apollo Tyres. I am positive that we will be able to bring out competitive products to address the requirements of our global customers.” Furthermore, the company has also inducted Dr Seshu in its Management Board.

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Bridgestone India opens its Exclusive Select Store ‘F1 Cars’ at Karur in Tamil Nadu

Bridgestone, the world’s numero uno tyre and rubber manufacturer has inaugurated its exclusive Select store at Karur, in Tamil Nadu. The exclusive Select showroom was formally inaugurated on March 12, 2014 by S Venkitachalam, Senior Deputy General Manager, PSR Sales – South Region, Bridgestone India Private Ltd.

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The Bridgestone Select store boasts of having an exclusive Bridgestone retail ‘Identity and Sales’ in line with the global retail philosophy adopted successfully across the world.
Speaking on the occasion, Venkitachalam said: “We are back with yet another customer friendly, smart and stylized shop equipped with a wide product range and modern services to offer. Select is a unique retail channel concept of a quality shop which promises the customer a Better and Unique Buying experience”. The Select outlet, ‘F1 Cars’ is spread across 1,823 square feett showroom is located at KP Nagar, Opposite to IMA Hall, Erode Road, Karur.

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At this showroom customers can see and feel the Bridgestone exclusivity, sophistication and progressiveness. It hosts several customer friendly facilities such as: Welcome and customer friendly environment, smart and stylised interiors, unparalleled customer service and wide product range, displays and designs. The other products and services available at the store include wheel alignment, wheel balancing, nitrogen filling, alloys, tyre changer and water wash. Bridgestone’s brand essence: ‘Serving society with superior quality’ is not only valid for its products but also for Bridgestone service standards which can be experienced at Select retail outlets.

Aggresive growth plan
As a part of its aggressive growth plan in the Indian Market Bridgestone has been expanding its ‘Select’ concept stores in India. Currently Bridgestone has 330 Select stores across all key cities in the country.

Indian operation

Bridgestone Indi started its operations in 1996. In March 1998 with setup of its manufacturing facility in Kheda, Madhya Pradesh, the tyre maker achieved its objective of running Indian manufactured Bridgestone tyres on Indian Roads. In a short stint of 14 years Bridgestone India is one of the leading tyre manufacturers in the country, both in the automotive original equipment manufacturers as well as the aftermarket segments.
Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is the world’s largest tyre and rubber manufacturing entity. In addition to tyres for use in a wide variety of applications, it also manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in over 150 nations and territories around the world.

Yokohama India to open its first tyre manufacturing plant at Bahadurgarh, Haryana on February 22, 2014

Yokohama India Private Limited, the domestic arm of the Japanese tyre major Yokohama will open its first tyre manufacturing plant at Bahadurgarh in Haryana on February 22, 2014. Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Huda will formally inaugurte the plant at 4.00 PM. Located at Plot No 1, Sector 4, B, HSIIDC Industrial Estate in Bhadurgarh, Jajjar the company will produce quality tyres designed for India with Japanese technology.
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A host of dignitaries including Takeshi Fujino, Managing Director of Yokohama India; Yagi, Ambassador of Japan; Tarun Bajaj, Managing Director of HSIIDC; Chandershaker, DC of Jhajjar and Kagami, YRC, Corporate Office will be present on the occasion.
As per the plan, in the first phase, the firm is contemplating on starting operating the plant at an annual production capacity of 700,000 tyres from July 2014. The total investment in construction of the new plant is estimated to be 4.4 billion yen. It may be recalled that in 2008, Yokohama Rubber signed a pact with Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Delvelopment Corporation Ltd to acquire land of 25 acres in the Corporation’s industrial estate in Bahadurgarh. Eventually, the construction of the tyre plant got delayed due to market slowdown. Since July 2007, Yokohama India has been selling passenger car tyres for the aftermarket through its own sales network. Yokohama is making an effort to expand sales by creating an image of a high grade brand tyre through placing an emphasis on high performance and high quality that characterise Yokohama brand tyres.
In 2011, sales of new cars reach around three million in India. In 2020, the market is likely to reach in excess of seven million cars to grow into the third largest car market in the world. Along with this move, the local tyre market also is likely to grow at a steady pace. Yokohama Rubber plans to proactively take this as a business opportunity and upgrade its business model from sale of imported products to local production and consumption.
The industrial estate in Bahadurgarh is located about 40 kilometres west of Delhi, the largest commercial district in the country and some 45 minutes from Delhi International Airport. Many other benefits of the location include nearby Haryana State University of Technology, which is likely to become a supplier of excellent human resources.

Outline of the new tyre plant (first phase)
Area: 25 accres (99.922.5 square meters)
Product: Radial tyres for passenger cars
Production capacity: 700,000 tyres a year.
Employees: 350
Operation: To begin in July 2014.

Total investment: 4.4 billion yen

Third JK Tyre Royal Rajasthan Rally 2014, Steelbird Helmet MD Rajeev Kapur wins three prizes

The Managing Director Steelbird Helmets, Rajeev Kapur, for the first time, took part in the 3rd JK Tyre Royal Rajasthan Rally 2014 and made a mark by wining three prizes in different categories such as first prize in Dunes Stage Category 1600 cc, fouth position in Rally amateur Category and overall second in Sand Dunes stage, while Team Terrain Tigers came first as a team.

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Commenting on the win, Kapur said: “Motorsport always enthusiasts me and this victory is very special, since this is our first entry in the JK Tyre Royal Rajasthan Rally”.
According to a statement issued by Steelbird Helment, each team comprises of a driver and navigator, and unlike racing or other forms of rallying, the role of the navigator is equally, if not more important, in the success of the team. Kashish Kapur as a navigator instructs the route and always ensures that the team is on track. Since normal cars are used for this form of rallying, with basic safety equipment, anyone can participate and experience the thrill of motor rallying, thus bringing motorsport closer to the common man.
The Third JK Tyre Royal Rajasthan Rally came to an exciting end in Jaipur after travelling for over 600 kilometers in the State of Rajasthan. The rally witness participation of over 65 professional rally drivers who had come from across the country like Delhi NCR, Chandigarh and from South India. The activity continues to provide ‘Fun Riding Experience’ to all participants as well as spectators in a safe and controlled environment. The JK Tyre Royal Rajasthan Rally was the first night rally in Rajasthan. The route travelled was from Jaipur-Amber-Achrol-Anoharpur-Samodh-Sambhar lake-Ajmer and Pushkar.

Apollo Tyres create innovative spoiler for new Porsche 911 Turbo

Continuing with its efforts of innovation for customer satisfaction, Apollo Tyres has added yet another feather in their cap. What makes this effort even more significant is, it is something beyond a tyre, according to a company statement. The R&D team at Apollo Tyres, in an exclusive partnership with Porsche, has developed the new, variable front spoiler of the recently introduced Porsche 911 turbo and 911 turbo S. The spoiler, branded as ‘Air Master by Vredestein’, is an integrated part of the Porsche Active Aerodynamics system and protected with a series of patents by both partners.
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Recently, Apollo Tyres became the first manufacturer to produce an all season tyre using European natural rubber or Russian Dandelion, as a part of the EU-PEARLS project. This project was undertaken to reduce the dependence of tyre manufacturers on rubber trees, which is mostly grown in Asia.
Commenting on this innovative spoiler, Peter Snel, Chief, R&D (PV), Apollo Tyres Ltd, said “I am quite excited with this innovation by the team, especially because the team has gone beyond the usual tyre-related research. This also demonstrates Porsche’s confidence on us for developing such an item. The variable front spoiler is made with a specially developed EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber, which combines flexibility, to adapt to the required aerodynamics under all weather conditions and ambient temperatures, with the strength and elasticity to withstand impact damage from road particles.”
At low speeds, the spoiler retracts beneath the bumper to ensure maximum ground clearance, allowing the 911 turbo to pass speed bumps without a hitch. At higher speeds, the spoiler extends on the outside to optimise the airflow around the wheels and reduce fuel consumption. In the performance position, the spoiler is fully extended to create extra downforce on the front wheels which, combined with the fully extracted rear wing, results in exceptional road-holding.
The spoiler is powered pneumatically with several air chambers giving it the required shape. The entire system was developed by a dedicated cross functional team from Apollo Tyres R&D and Apollo Vredestein manufacturing. All production processes were also developed by the team internally, and actual production of these spoilers have been started in a special production cell few months back.

Bridgestone opens select store ‘Everest Tyre Services’ in Vasai

Bridgestone, the world’s number one tyre and rubber manufacturer has opened its exclusive Select store in Vasai in Thane district of the western Indian state of Maharashtra, according to a company statement. Vaibhav Saraf, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Bridgestone India formally inaugurated the exclusive Select showroom on January 11, 2014. The Bridgestone Select stores boosts of an exclusive Bridgestone retail ‘Identity and Sales’ in line with the global retail philosophy adopted successfully across the world.
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Saraf said: “We are back with yet another customer friendly, smart and stylized shop equipped with a wide product range and modern services to offer. Select is a unique retail channel concept of a quality shop which promises the customer a Better & Unique Buying experience”.
The Select outlet ‘Everest Tyre Services’ 1,062 square feet outlet is located at Shop number 3 and 4, Ashok Nagar, Navghar, Ambadi road, Vasai road west, Thane. At this showroom customers can see and feel the Bridgestone exclusivity, sophistication and progressiveness. It hosts several customer friendly facilities such as:

·        Welcome and customer friendly environment

·        Smart and stylized interiors

·        Unparalleled customer service

·        Wide Product Range, displays and designs

The other products and services available at the store are:

·        Wheel Alignment

·        Wheel Balancing

·        Nitrogen Filling

·        Alloys

·        Tyre Changer

Bridgestone’s brand essence ‘Serving society with superior quality’ is not only valid for our products but also for Bridgestone service standards which can be experienced at Select retail outlets. As a part of its aggressive growth plan in the Indian Market Bridgestone has been expanding its ‘Select’ concept stores in India. Currently Bridgestone has 325 Select stores across cities in India.

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Bridgestone India started its operations in 1996. In March 1998 with setup of its manufacturing facility in Kheda, Madhya Pradesh, Bridgestone achieved its objective of running Indian manufactured Bridgestone tyres on Indian Roads. In a short stint of 14 years Bridgestone India is one of the leading tyre companies in both the OEM and aftermarket. Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. In addition to tires for use in a wide variety of applications, it also manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in over 150 nations and territories around the world.

Michelin India launches Pilot Road 2 and Pilot Street Radial Motorcycle tyres

Michelin, the world’s leading automotive tyre manufacturer, today launched its high performance Michelin Pilot Road 2 and Michelin Pilot Street Radial for the passionate motorcycle riders in India. According to a company statement, the Michelin Pilot Road 2 is arimed at the 500 cc plus segment of sports and super bikes and Michelin Pilot Street Radial focuses on the 250-500 cc segment of motorcyles. With this Michelin, pioneers of radialisation in tyres, introduce ISI Marked Radial tyres in India for the segment.
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Speaking at the launch, Pradeep Thampy, Commercial Director – Motorcycle and Scooter tyres, Michelin India, said: “Biking is rapidly becoming an extension of the personality for the young at heart, which is fuelling the growth of the Indian premium bike segment. There is a gradual but sure shift from usage of bikes from utilitarian to leisure and recreation. This segment is only going to increase, with industry analysts pegging the annual growth at 25 percent. Michelin Pilot Road 2 and Michelibn Pilot Street Radial will cater to the needs of this growing market and will provide the consumer with a fitting product. With the introduction of these tyres in the market Michelin demonstrates its worldwide commitment to riders to provide new tyres, each of which delivers more performance – taking India to a higher plane of mobility. Over the years, Michelin has constantly demonstrated its commitment to make motorbike riding enjoyable in all situations and to develop tyre ranges that deliver the best performance across the board, in terms of dry or wet grip, feel and steering accuracy, and total mileage. Combining these qualities is the promise that underlies Michelin Total Performance. Michelin tyres deliver safety, riding enjoyment and total mileage”.
The Michelin Pilot Road 2 is specifically designed for 500 cc plus motorcyles. It is manufactured with the two-compound technology borrowed from Michelin’s learnings from MotoGP technology. This technology offers dual performance capabilities in one – softer rubber on the shoulders for grip and harder rubber in the centre for increased fuel efficiency. The Michelin Pilot Road 2 in addition to its best in class wet grip and longevity, offers excellent performance in other handling parameters like dry braking, agility (steering) among others.
The new-size Michelin Pilot Street Radial has been designed with two HMLS (High Modulus Low Shrinkage) Polyester carcass plies, providing the required rigidity for optimal handling performances as well as expected endurance. It is supported by a 0o circumferential belt made of aramid material for an optimised contact patch.
Michelin Pilot Road 2 is available in sizes of 120/70 ZR 17 (58W), 180/55 ZR 17 (73W) and 190/55 ZR 17 (73W) and price ranging from Rs 8,772 to Rs 12,808. The Michelin Pilot Road 2 can be used as a fitment for Ducati Monster, Honda CBR 1000R, Suzuki Bandit, Kawasaki ZZR, Yamaha FZS Frazer, Yamaha MT-01, Triumph Speed Triple & BMW R1200 ST. The MICHELIN Pilot Street Radial is available in sizes of 110/70 R17, 130/70 R 17 and 140/70 R 17 and price ranging from Rs. 4,502 to Rs. 5,927. The MICHELIN Pilot Street Radial can be used as a fitment for Kawasaki Ninja 250, Ninja 300, Honda CBR 250 & Honda CB 300R. For more details on the product and its availability, visit motorcycle.michelin.in.
Michelin, the leading French tyre fim is dedicated to sustainably improving the mobility of goods and people by manufacturing and marketing tires for every type of vehicle, including aircraft, automobiles, bicycles/motorcycles, earthmovers, farm equipment and trucks. It also offers electronic mobility support services on ViaMichelin.com and publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand, Michelin is present in more than 170 countries, has 113,400 employees and operates 69 production plants in 18 different countries. The Group has a Technology Centre in charge of research and development with operations in Europe, North America and Asia.

Apollo Tyres, Manchester United Football Club unveil ‘There are no shortcuts’ campaign

Leveraging its three-year high profile partnership with Manchester United Football Club for India and the UK, Apollo Tyres unveiled its corporate advertising campaign covering television, cinema, print, digital and outdoor mediums. The campaign focuses on the shared values of both, Apollo Tyres and Manchester United, of going the distance to achieve the best. This campaign is being launched in India and the UK, according to a statement issued by the tyre maker.
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Conceptualised and created by The Brooklyn Brothers, this campaign is an expression of the ‘parallels’ drawn between the journeys of both Apollo Tyres and Manchester United, as they continue to go the distance in the pursuit of great performance. The television commercial is based on a simple but powerful message of the effort, determination and skill required to reach your goal, and that there are no shortcuts to achieving your full potential. The print campaign illustrates the performance, safety, control and endurance requirements on the football field for players and on the tarmac for the tyres.
Commenting on the new campaign launch, Marco Paracciani, Chief Marketing Officer, Apollo Tyres Ltd said: “This is one more step towards our journey of making Apollo a globally recognised brand. There are no shortcuts to achieve that goal as there are none to achieve great performance, be it on the road, on a sports pitch, at work or in life in general. Manchester United share the same view; hence we believe we have a very genuine and unique proposition that will resonate strongly with our customers and target audiences”.

Cooper Tyre & Rubber terminates merger agreement with Apollo Tyres

Barely few hours before the closure of $ 2.3 billion (Rs 14,500 crore) merger deal deadline between the US tyre manufacturer, Cooper Tyre and Rubber and Indian tyre major, Apollo Tyres, the former has firmed up its mind to terminate the merger agreement, quoting a Cooper Tyre statement yesterday, an Economic Times report said.

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The statement, according to the report, had notified that it had failed to find financing for the transaction, while Apollo Tyres expressed its disappointment over the US tyre maker prematurely attempting to spike the deal.
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Roy Armes, CEO and President of Cooper Tyre said in the statement: “It is time to move our business forward. While the strategic rationale for a business combination with the Indian tyre manufacturer Apollo is compelling, it is clear that the merger agreement both entities inked on June 12 this year will not be consummated by Apollo and we have been notified that financing for the transaction is no longer available. Therefore, the right thing for us now is to focus on continuing to build our business”.
Quoting experts as saying, the report said that for Apollo to conclude financing of the deal, it was of paramount importance to know the consolidated financial details of Cooper Tyre including that of its Chinese joint venture, which people close to the development said, the US tyre maker was not able to submit to Apollo Tyres.
Quoting Apollo source, the report said that the tyre maker was left with no other option, but to pursue legal actions against Cooper Tyre. What is more, Cooper’s lack of control over its largest subsidiary and contractual financial reporting obligations has considerably exacerbated the situation, Apollo claimed.
“Apollo has made all that it can to find a sensible way forward over the last several months. However, Cooper has been unwilling to work constructively to complete a transaction that would have created value for both companies and their shareholders. Furthermore, Cooper’s actions has left Apollo no choice but to pursue legal remedies for Cooper’s detrimental conduct,” citing an Apollo statement, concurred the report.
Known as the biggest merger and acquisitions deal in the annals of Indian automotive arena, even bigger than the acquisition of British Jaguar Land Rover by Tata Motors, was perennially under the threat of a collapse, due to major differences betweenthe two entities. The inevitable has happened now with the deal falling apart.
A gamut of factors such as renegotiation with the workers of Cooper Tyre, along with stiff resistance from its Chinese alliance partner and the non-availability of financial details of the Chinese joint venture company of Cooper Chenghan Tyre (CCT) were considered as few of the major stumbling blocks for completing the deal, noted the report.
Apollo deal
It may be recalled that the Indian tyre maker, had plans to acquire 100 percent stake in Cooper Tyre for Rs 14,500 crore on June 12, 2013. As part of the negotiation, Apollo Tyres would have been liable to pay $ 112.5 million, (Rs 690 crore) in case if it decides to withdraw, while Cooper would have had to pay a termination penalty of $ 50 million if it called it quits. On the other hand, if the deal would have stretched beyond December 31, 2013 none of the two entities would be liable to pay anything, the report continued.
On the question of who is liable to pay for damages on the deal not coming through, Cooper in an investor conference call, was quoted to have said by the ET report: ‘It does not believe that the $ 50 million termination fee applies. The company is pursuing the reverse termination fees of $ 112.5 million from Apollo Tyres for not completing the deal’.  ‘Cooper believes Apollo has breached the merger agreement, and we will continue to pursue the legal steps necessary to protect the interests of our company and our stockholders,’ Armes added.
Cooper had dragged Apollo Tyres to court for not completing the deal by October 4 this year. The Delaware lower court of Chancery had ruled in favour of Apollo Tyres, stating that it had not breached its obligation under the deal. Delaware’s Supreme Court was slated to hear arguments mid-December but it admitted that the appeal had been ‘improvidently accepted’, which meant that the case shouldn’t have been heard by the court at all, added the report.

India Rubber Meet 2014 to be held in Kochi from February 20-21

India Rubber Meet 2014, a first of its kind event, organised by Rubber Board will be held in Kochi, Kerala from February 20-21. The two-day meet comes at a time when the Indian rubber industry is aiming at corroborating its position as a sunrise sector. IRM 2014 will be helpful to the industry to understand as to how synergies could be drawn between various stakeholders of the rubber industry such as planters, dealers, raw material players, importers, manufacturers, exporters and more. This will also be learning curve for the Government to assess the Indian rubber industry and evolve at a conclusion as to how it can create a vision and goal for the niche segment.
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IRM 2014 is a maiden initiative and the Board is planning to make it an annual affair from next year. Vikram Kirloskar, President of the Society of Indian Autombile Manufacturers will formally inaugurate the meet. A seminar titled: ‘Indian Rubber: New Horizons’ is also being planned concurrently, where industry experts from across the globe will deliberate on various aspects like economic outlook, regulations and legislations, technology and innovation and sustainability and rubber industry outlook.
An estimated 600 delegates from India as well as overseas destinations are likely to attend the first time endeavour which is bringing the entire rubber fraternity of India under one roof in order to analyse the present trends in raw material production and processing, bedises trading, end product manufacturing and export, a statement issued by the Rubber Board said.
A panel discussion has also been lined up on the topic: ‘Present and near-term global scenario of natural rubber producing countries’, where representatives from countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka and India will share their insights. What is more, another panel discussion on the topic: ‘Indian Rubber Scenario’: Stakeholder’s Perspective’ is also on the agenda, where representatives from various segements of rubber industry including rubber growers, processors, tyre and non-tyre product makers, traders, synthetic and reclaimed rubber manufacturers and development bodies that support the rubber industry will take part and exchange views.