Fuel Autotek to roll into mid-to-mass tire market
The tire industry in the country is a mature, robust one, and it takes not just determination and guts to enter it this late in the game, but a whole lot of smarts.
Australia-based Fuel Autotek is staking its name and experience on a market that it still sees tremendous opportunities in by officially bringing in Italy’s Momo Tires and Thailand’s Deestone Tires. In a release, company CFO Enzo Mastroianni said, “We are thrilled to bring to the Philippines an exciting brand which after over 50 years of leading the global automotive and motorsports market with high-performance steering wheels, road wheels and racing accessories, has launched Momo Tires... We are also bringing in to the market Deestone Tires, which is Thailand’s largest and well-respected local tire manufacturer. We are proud to offer Deestone’s full range of quality tire products.”
Marketing and promotions manager Kevin Buenaseda says the company is leveraging its Australian experience as the “leading provider of alloy wheels, tires, and automotive accessory brands” to locally provide tires for high-performance cars, passenger cars, trucks, industrial and agricultural equipment, and even golf carts – released nationwide through a network of more than 200 dealers. He further reveals that the company already has three logistics hubs in Manila, Cebu, and Davao.
With the establishment of a subsidiary – Fuel Autotek Sales, Inc. or Fuel Autotek Philippines – the Australian company formally enters the local market to offer Momo and Deestone along with Kaizen- and Roadwing-branded tires. Roadwing, a noted marque in China, makes truck and bus tires. Kaizen, on the other hand, is an Indian tire maker whose products will be mainly distributed locally in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
For Autotek, it’s all about knowing which pool to dip its toes into. In an exclusive interview with STAR Motoring, Fuel Autotek director Raul Alonzo maintains that the “money is in the commercial market” on account of robust demand. He says that taxis typically wear their tires out every four to six months; truck every six to eight. So the commercial sector would generate the volume needed for good business.
“At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game. That basically is what we’re looking at as a market objective,” underscores Alonzo. He admits that Deestone is “basically for the mass market, but aimed at the mid-range level. Because we’re just practical marketers in the sense that we could never be at par with (the likes of) Goodyear. We have a tire that could be as good. It’s how you use it, it’s how you take care of it. But it could be as good but priced much lower.”
Interestingly, Alonzo adds that the “recapping” business has been throttled by the inexpensive prices of quality tires, even as he reminds consumers that “not all Chinese tires are made equal.”
Still, Fuel Autotek is not going to do a hard-sell – particularly for its Roadwing tires. “How do I promote a China brand and say it’s a cut above the rest of other Chinese brands? With this one, we’re doing a conventional approach. (We) just get it into the market and let the customers’ experience speak for themselves. No amount of marketing will really do it justice because there are 301 other Chinese truck and bus tire brands… (but) our Chinese brand is 100-percent wholly guaranteed. Of course, the warranty is not forever.”
Buenaseda reports that the formal brand launch of Fuel Autotek Philippines will happen at the forthcoming Manila International Auto Show 2017 on March 30, and the main focus at the moment is to “boost visibility of (its) carried brands within the key cities around the Philippines.” The company is also looking for “additional highly qualified dealers who share (its) vision and values… who will passionately pursue and promote (its) brands in to the local market.”