TVS Eurogrip is the two-wheeler tyre brand of TVS Srichakra Limited. TVS Eurogrip is all set to take on major international tyre brands with its range of tyres for premium bikes. The company’s next range of tyres will be called the Roadhound, designed for road-biased sport-touring motorcycles, which are already under user trials. By 2024, TVS Eurogrip intends to offer tyres for every kind of motorcycle, and is all set to take on major international tyre brands like Pirelli, Metzeler, Bridgetone and others. Excerpts from an interaction with V Sivaramakrishnan, Chief Technology Officer, TVS Srichakra Limited on the sidelines of the TVS Eurogrip Tread Talks Racetrack Edition at the Madras Motor Race Track recently.
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We had a racetrack experience at the Madras Motor Race Track (MMRT) of the TVS Eurogrip Protorq Extreme tyres recently. The tyres offer superb grip and the outing was an impressive one!
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CNB: The TVS Remora tyres have been quite popular. What has been the market response like to the Remora range?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: The response to the Remora range of tyres has been very good. In fact, we’ve done a line extension of the TVS Remora tyres. We started in 2018-19, and now we have done a line extension work, extending the range to 150 cc, 160 cc bikes, and also scooters. It’s been one of the nicest products for the commuter segment. It’s a blend of high mileage and also very good handling.
The TVS Ronin comes kitted out with block-pattern tyres designed specifically for the bike by TVS Eurogrip. These tyres are on/off tyres, intended for regular tarmac use, as well as for rough terrain use.
CNB: On the new TVS Ronin, you have introduced the new block-pattern tyres. Tell us about those tyres.
V. Sivaramakrishnan: Those tyres are called Xplore, and those tyres are inspired by a macho kind of a look, with a little on/off kind of requirement, is what I’d say. It’s got a special compound to take care of the block pattern. When you have a block pattern, you tend to have a slightly higher rate of wear. So, these tyres are going to go into a segment which can be a little kind of off-road segment. So, you can have a chip and chunk, which is an important feature. When you go into an off-road kind of segment, you can have a few cuts coming from rocks and sharp edges, so you need to have a compound which is slightly better, for cut-resistance, chip-resistance, so we have them there. It’s been very well-received. In fact, our customer, TVS Motor Company, has been very happy.
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The TVS Eurogrip Protorq Extreme tyres offer very good grip, and offer a level of performance right up there with the very best tyres.
CNB: How has the brand change been to TVS Eurogrip, under the TVS Srichakra name?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: With this new brand, we wanted to communicate to our markets and our customers that we’re a youthful brand, with high technology, high performance, looking into the future. Towards this endeavour I think we were quite successful. There’s a lot of things happening around the brand as you can see. A brand is just a name, but what we do with it is very important. Our goal has been to communicate to the market that we are a very youthful brand, targeting the youth of this country, and across the globe. And so, we have all our products lined up to communicate that and to make our current customers experience that.
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TVS Eurogrip now has presence in over 88 countries, with a range of tyres offered for international markets, in addition to domestic market products.
CNB: Over the past 5 years, what’s been the footprint expansion for TVS Eurogrip?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: It’s been quite an interesting journey. We were only an Indian company, with literally hardly any global market presence. If at all, we were selling, we were selling some quantities in the African markets. Today, if you look at it, we sell in most countries across South and South East Asia, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, every South East Asian country, so that’s a big step. We are big time into Europe, we sell in every country in Europe which has two-wheelers, so Spain is one of the biggest markets for us, Italy, which is the home for our technical centre, is another very big market. We never planned it, but surprisingly, we have customers from Israel. We have France, Germany, so we have successfully entered into the European markets. The first product line, which is a scooter product line, is a big success; we’re pretty happy about it. We continue to strengthen our presence in South American markets, with our products, with our teams working on that.
So, it’s really an interesting journey, to say that starting from India, now we literally have a global footprint. There are 88 countries where we sell our products, we were literally not present in those countries before, so you can imagine the kind of market penetration that we have been doing.
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TVS Eurogrip is getting ready for the market launch of the Roadhound sport-touring tyres.
CNB: During these past 5 years, how has the product development, and R&D progressed for TVS Eurogrip?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: Before 5 years, we used to do about 25-30 products, that used to be the average. Today, we do about 100 products a year. So, we have a very big ramp up of our R&D capacity, so Europe centre is one big chunk, which does about 30-40 products a year, we do about 60-70 products in India. We kind of did a big R&D expansion in terms of manpower capabilities. Today, we have a full-fledged material sciences lab, to develop materials and compounds in-house. Then, we have a dynamics lab; the dynamics lab today has a three-axis stiffness testing facility. Then we have a shearography testing facility, we have the rolling resistance testing facility, then we have testing facility for stiffness, dynamic performance measurements.
We’ve modernised our test track in Madurai. So, we did a big R&D infrastructure spend to gear up, and all these were completed in 2018-19. We moved from a team of 70 engineers to about 110-120 engineers. We grew our R&D strength by nearly 50 per cent. We put up a new manufacturing facility in our Madurai location. So, this facility takes care of building all the high-performance products. So, lots of investments have gone in, lots of efforts have gone in to strengthen this back-end infrastructure. All these put together has enabled us to grow our capabilities and be able to deliver products for global markets.
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CNB: What are the expectations from your current products, and what is the product push for the domestic market?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: We keep doing products, we have a product line called Beamer, a product line called Xplore, we also have a Duratrail. For the commuter segment of 100 cc to 150 cc, European-inspired pattern with very good durability, performance, handling and grip. We are doing about 5 or 6 categories for the commuter segment, for different applications, which means for different terrain and different markets. That’s the big push that we’re doing for the Indian market. Then we have the Rambler and Xplore, as well as the Protorq Extreme tyres.
The TVS Eurogrip Protorq Extreme tyres offer very good cornering grip and performance.
CNB: How do you extend the product line, and what are the timelines for new products for premium motorcycles?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: Conceptually, what we do is, we pick a product line. For example, global scooter, then we pick products in different sizes, like extreme performance, which addresses the extreme performance of that segment. We call it the head size. The first year, we develop the head size, thoroughly test it, and finalise the platform. What is the basic technology to be applied, in terms of materials, in terms of compounds, in terms of construction, profile, pattern, everything. After that, we do the line extension the following year. So, in scooter, the head size is completed, the line extension is completed, the product line is completed.
The on/off segment, the head size is completed, the line extension is completed. The Road Hound, the head size is completed, the initial three products we talked about. Then the line extension work will happen, it has already started happening now. Next year, we’ll complete the line extension. The Protorq Extreme Revamp is completed. It’s available. The next product line is the supersport, for which we are currently designing this year, which is 2022 up to the mid of 2023. One year timeframe will be the headsize of the supersport, and then line extension will follow in 2023-24. So, one year plus one year. Similarly, for cross touring segment, again the headsize development is going on. So, next 1.5 to 2 years, you will see the products coming in.
A range of new tyres for supersport bikes, adventure bikes and even cruisers and touring motorcycles will be launched by 2024.
CNB: So, pretty much, TVS Eurogrip will address all kinds of motorcycle segments? This includes adventure bikes and superbikes as well?
V. Sivaramakrishnan: So, the goal is tyre for every kind of motorcycle in the world. That’s the goal. The Hayabusa, the Honda CBRs they crave for our tyres. We are now in the user trial phase, where 50 of our customers are trying out our tyres. Already there’s a big demand; many customers are asking for tyres. We see Eurogrip becoming the preferred brand even for premium tyres by next year. Our European experience has been fantastic, and by 2024 we will have any tyre for any motorcycle available in India.