The tyre maker, which has presence in 175 countries with 67 plants, currently sells only premium bigger size tyres in limited quantity especially for performance oriented models in India.
In 2020, the government imposed curbs on imports of certain new pneumatic tyres used in motor cars, busses, lorries and motorcycles in a move to promote domestic manufacturing.
Tyre companies can now import only a small number of tyres into the country under a limited import licence, which was not the case before 2020.
In an interaction with PTI here, Menegaux said the group sees India as a great developing market.
He noted that the company is eager to invest in the local production of passenger vehicle tyres in India and the only thing which needs to be worked out is the timing for the same.
“Now we are reaching the moment where it will make sense to invest in the passenger car capacity (in India),” Menegaux noted. Elaborating further, he said that as the company has presence across the globe it needs to carefully evaluate investment options across the regions.
“We invest in many places around the world so the question is when is the right time for India. It is not a question whether we should invest in India, the question is when,” Menegaux said.
When asked specifically about the timeframe for the new investment, he said: “It is under the process right now.”
Menegaux noted that the Michelin group sees India as a great developing market where infrastructure is developing at a very fast pace.
“With proper infrastructure in place the speed (of vehicles on roads) will increase and the relevance of our technology will be even more visible,” he said.
Michelin currently has presence in the truck and bus radial tyres in India. It has a production facility in Chennai with an installed capacity of over 30,000 tonnes per annum.
The facility is currently focussed on manufacturing a range of radial truck/bus tyres and defence tyres for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as for the replacement market in the country.
Michelin also gets two-wheeler tyres manufactured in the country through a partner.
On the government putting restrictions on imported tyres in India, Menegaux noted that it was a bit disappointing for the company which was in the process of scaling up operations in the country.
“We had developed a good market in the passenger car segment with imports which is the traditional way of doing business. Everywhere we start by importing up to a point where we reach a certain volume and then we implement production,” he noted.
Terming the government policies in India as excellent, Menegaux noted that putting restrictions on imported tyres was probably not the right thing to do.
He also sought government support in safeguarding the intellectual property (IP) environment in the country.
“We invent a lot, we innovate a lot and therefore IP protection is crucial for us,” he noted.
Menegaux noted that the group, which employs close to 1.32 lakh people globally, continues to invest in various competencies in India.
“We have developed a big centre in Pune as a worldwide hub for artificial intelligence. We have research activities and digital services…We employ over 2,300 people in the country,” Menegaux said.
Michelin group, which produced around 200 million tyres globally in 2022, has set a goal of achieving 100 per cent sustainable materials in its tyres by 2050.
The company recently unveiled two tyres, one for cars and the other for buses, containing 45 per cent and 58 per cent sustainable materials, respectively.
“We will meet the challenges of the changing tyre markets thanks to industrial facilities that place people at their heart, that are ever more innovative and more environmentally friendly…We are confident that we will achieve our strategic goals: with, around and beyond tyres,” Menegaux stated.
He outlined the company’s goals and strategies at Michelin’s facility in Cuneo, Italy, the largest car tyre factory in western Europe.
This correspondent is in Cuneo on invitation of Michelin.