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Australia still important in Asia-Pacific region: Goodyear

Tyre-land: Goodyear Asia Pacific vice president of consumer tyres Mike Rytokoski (left) at the launch of the EfficientGrip Performance SUV tyre in Thailand earlier this week.

Aussie input still valued at Goodyear despite juggernaut Chinese and Indian markets

4 Aug 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN in THAILAND

DESPITE emerging markets including China and India eclipsing Australia in terms of sheer sales volume, tyre-maker Goodyear says the local market still has a prominent voice in the Asia-Pacific region.

Goodyear tyre sales in Australia tally about 1.3 million annually, roughly 4.2 per cent of the Asia-Pacific region’s 2016 sales result of 30.9 million units – most of which are made up with sales in the Chinese and Indian markets.

In terms of vehicle sales, last year Australia’s new-vehicle tally reached around 1.2 million units, which compares with China’s 28.03 million and India’s approximately 3.76 million new-vehicle sales.

However, Goodyear Asia Pacific vice president of consumer tyres Mike Rytokoski told GoAuto at the international launch of the brand’s new EfficientGrip Performance (EGP) SUV tyre in Thailand last week that Australia’s market is crucial as it emphasises the brand’s specialities instead of outright volume, which can be achieved with less technically competent tyres.

“It (Australia) is a market that plays well with our strengths,” he said. “Our strength is in tyres that are technically more challenging, you know particular SUV.

“I’d say that’s really the sweet spot, you know a good fit with our technologies and our skills and our capabilities, and you know that’s largely what the Australian market is largely about.”

The new EGP SUV tyre was developed specifically to meet the needs of the growing premium crossover segment, a market which Australia has already firmly embraced thanks to offerings including the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Goodyear senior brand manager of Australia and New Zealand Tony Kiernan reiterated the importance of the local market and said Australia is present during the development stage of a new tyre for input.

“We definitely are at every gate stage and are fully aware, and we have a voice,” he said. “But in saying that, they have some big markets to look after.

“You’re probably right in that it has changed a little bit, but the process is really solid and we’ve got some good technical and resource experience that allows us to be pretty well-regarded when we do put our hand up.”

Mr Rytokoski said that “Australia is an important market” with a strong retail presence which will expand in the near future.

“We’ve got a large business there, we have strong market-leading positions,” he said.

“In Australia, we have both the Goodyear and Dunlop brand, both are doing well in the marketplace and we have, in total, we have about 500 retail stores. So we have Goodyear autocare stores and we have Beaurepaires, which is a multi-branded tyre retailer that we own, and then we have Dunlop super dealers.

“And then we work with other customers and channels like K-Mart, so it’s a very important market for us.

“We have some new stores that are opening up, so the plan is to have some growth in our retail network in Australia, definitely not looking at scaling back.”

However, My Rytokoski revealed that the planned shutdown of all Australian car-manufacturing in October this year did not affect Goodyear’s plans Down Under.

“As far as the automotive sector in Australia, that’s beyond our control,” he said. “You have the car-makers, they make their decisions about where they make their vehicles and what you are seeing in Australia is what has happened in many countries in Europe and North America.

“A lot of the heavy manufacturing has moved out to lower cost areas, I mean that’s just the economic reality.”

For the entire Asia-Pacific region, Mr Rytokoski said Goodyear would focus on larger-sized tyres that are harder to produce but also more profitable.

“To continue in Asia Pacific, our goal is to grow a little bit faster in the market, so we want to gain market share and we are focussed on the more profitable sectors of the market,” he said. “The terminology we use is 17-inches and larger diameter because those tyres are technically more challenging to manufacturer and it plays well with our strengths.

“Our strategy is about winning with technology, providing superior quality, superior products – I mean this (EGP SUV tyre) is a great example, it’s a product that outperforms all our competitors, so it’s a great example of our strategy in action.

“It is about providing innovation, products that meet the consumer needs, products that are superior to the competition and those are the segments that we focus on, particularly those large rim-sized tyres.”

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