Michelin, the French company best known for its tyres, has been officially in Malaysia since 1998 although its tyres would have been sold here much earlier since it’s been in business for 130 years. Michelin tyres have long been respected for their quality, performance and safety and have often been a choice of owners of premium cars. In fact, there was a time when those who had purchased a Mercedes-Benz would immediately head for the tyre shop to change their still-new original tyres to Michelins.
After 1998, when Michelin began to be directly involved in marketing activities, it steadily grew its volume in the replacement market, always aiming for sustainable growth rather than spurts followed by declines. By 2018, a customer satisfaction survey conducted by Michelin Malaysia found Michelin to be the most recommended tyre brand among 8 other popular brands in the local market.
Like the other major tyre brands, Michelin also has its own network of tyre stores under the name of TYREPLUS, besides Michelin Service Centres and Michelin Truck Service Centres. The TYREPLUS concept began in China and was then chosen as the model for similar networks in other Asian countries. Today, the TYREPLUS network in Malaysia, which not only specialises in Michelin (and BF Goodrich) tyres but also provides general vehicle maintenance services, is the largest car maintenance network of its type with 55 outlets nationwide.
With safety being a major focus of Michelin tyre performance, Michelin Malaysia has had many activities which not only promote the superior safety of its products but also contribute to raising safety awareness among road-users.
“Michelin has always been a committed world leader to road safety. In Malaysia, improving road safety for everyone is also a priority for us. Tyres are the vehicle’s only point of contact with the road and while our first action in favour of road safety is, of course, to offer increasingly performing tyres which better protect drivers and passengers, we are also involved in many prevention and awareness campaigns,” said Pascal Nouvellon, Managing Director for Michelin (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei).
One example given by Mr. Nouvellon of the safety-related activities was the presence of Michelin personnel at various locations across the Klang Valley region to provide free tyre checks to motorists on the ‘balik kampung’ journeys during festive periods. The company also collaborated with a petroleum company to educate close to 6,000 university students in 5 universities on tyre safety and maintenance skills.
“In 2019, we continue to uphold our shared responsibility of improving road safety in Malaysia with Michelin Safe on Road, where we will be providing more free tyre checks during festive seasons to ensure Malaysians benefit from the best tyre conditions when travelling home with their families. We will also continue raising awareness on the importance of basic tyre safety and maintenance amongst young Malaysians,” Mr. Nouvellon said.
Thus far, Michelin has been active in the replacement market but has not had a presence in the Original Equipment (OE) market [in Malaysia] where tyres are supplied to assembly plants for original fitment on new vehicles. This is a high-volume business that can benefit sales greatly and Mr. Nouvellon said that there will be some developments in this area later in the year. While he did not reveal which companies Michelin will be supplying to, we suspect that at least one of the models will be a high-performance Japanese car.
On the subject of high performance, the company will continue to run the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience program. Held at the Sepang International Circuit over more than 20 days, the program started in 2006 and has grown to become a key annual event for the tyre company in the region. Up to 600 dealers, influencers and media come from around the region to enjoy the thrills of motorsport as well as experience the superlative qualities of Michelin tyres.
For those who want Ultra High Performance (UHP) Michelin tyres, Mr. Nouvellon said that improved logistics, with Bangkok as a regional hub, means that dealers can supply their customers with UHP tyres within 2 weeks.