Following five years of study and testing in the U.S., Apollo Tires is entering the North American commercial tire segment. This follows the company’s passenger tire launch under the Vredestein brand in the U.S. last year.
The Apollo truck tire lineup will ultimately include a full range of regional, super-regional, line-haul, bus and mixed-use applications, with fitments ranging from 17.5-24.5 in. The company plans to have 13 SKUs released this year and will expand to 23 SKUs by the second half of 2022. A total of 45 SKUs, covering 90% of the marketplace, will be available by 2024.
Apollo is targeting regional and super-regional trucking applications to begin its distribution strategy.
“Our distribution strategy is based on servicing dealers,” says Abhishek Bisht, Apollo Tires assistant vice president for the Americas. “We found it appropriate to start with the regional segment, broken into regional and super-regional, as it is still the largest, by far, in the marketplace. When it comes to mixed-application tires, we have an inherent strength. Our products are the best in the world, by far, in that category.”
Bisht says tires will be available in the U.S. market by June 1 at the latest.
Apollo data indicates over 85% of fleets in North America retread, and Bisht says the company found it important to prove its commercial tire casings will meet or exceed typical service requirements for North American fleet customers.
“For all of the products we are bringing to the United States, we are not satisfied with the first life only. We’re watching our products through the retread cycles and they are currently on their third retread,” Bisht says. “You have to appreciate the lineage of Apollo. Truck and bus tires are what built our company, so that is something that comes very natural to this company, and we have a huge legacy in it. [These tires] are new to this part of the world … but the casing integrity has a lot to do with the inherent R&D lineage.”
Apollo’s range of commercial tires are being produced in its manufacturing facilities in Hungary and India, and are currently being routed to the company’s warehouse in Kentucky. The company says its commercial tire designs have undergone over a million miles of testing on North American soil, from coast to coast, and Bisht adds all of the company’s commercial tires were validated over three years through Fleet Evaluation Services, a third-party testing service.
Apollo currently exports tires to more than 100 countries, including those in Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Bisht says Apollo currently owns 30% of the commercial tire market share in India, and nearly 50% of its global revenue is derived from TBR radial commercial vehicle tire sales.
Bisht says Apollo has identified its dealer network as the cornerstone of a successful brand launch.
As such, Bisht says one of the ways the company plans to help its North American dealers succeed is by implementing contractual exclusive sales territories. Apollo is also devoted to pricing transparency, which Bisht says is “the backbone of profitability.”
“We put the dealer in the center of our strategy – always. The dealer is merely an extension of our company, he’s part of the family,” he says. “It’s a very long-standing marriage that we’re proposing here. We are not interested in U.S. wholesale and we are not interested in supplying directly to fleets and becoming a competitor to the dealers.”
Volume bonuses, guaranteed 72-hour product delivery and product training, as well as a 72-month warranty on workmanship and materials and a 12-month road hazard warranty, round out Apollo’s dealer support strategy.