Humberto Gómez
Director General
Yokohama Tire México
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View from the Top

Asirational Brand Builds on Reputation

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 15:17

Q: Which segments are having the greatest influence on Yokohama’s position in the Mexican market?

A: In Mexico, not only do we sell tires for cars, SUVs and trucks but we also sell them for mining and industrial vehicles. Yokohama Tire Mexico has been operating in the country for two and a half years so we are a relatively recent entrant to the market. Our market share of 22 million light vehicle tires and over 3.5 million truck tires is still small but our focus is on expanding as much as possible, improving the perception of our company’s image. Yokohama is already considered an aspirational brand. We have boosted our presence with a professional dealership network in every segment to continue building on this reputation, as we deem all segments equally important.

Q: What have been the greatest challenges in establishing Yokohama’s brand in Mexico?

A: Some of our competitors have had a presence in Mexico for more than 60 years, not to mention numerous companies that offer low price and low-quality tires. Therefore, one of our main goals is to communicate the quality of Yokohama’s tires to end users and clarify that they do not have to pay the highest price to access a premium product. To raise awareness of our brand, Yokohama has signed a five-year partnership agreement with the Chelsea Football Club, one of the English Premiere League’s powerhouse teams, which is part of positioning ourselves as a premium player focused on end users.

Q: In terms of R&D and technology, how does Yokohama distinguish its product from its competition?

A: At Yokohama, we stress the fact that a fraction of a second saved by the immediate reaction of a tire can be the difference between life and death. Even so, the importance of a tire is often overlooked. This point of contact between the road and all the engineering innovation and manufacturing excellence involved in a vehicle is crucial and our clients need to know they are buying a product that will guarantee the safety of all the passengers on board.

Yokohama is now using a new technology involving orange oil, an environmentally friendly substitution for crude oil that reduces petroleum inputs by approximately 20 percent. This material increases tire recyclability while performing equally or better than previously used compounds. Another exemplary product is the AVID ENVigor, which combines all the high performance and environmental protectionist qualities available in a single tire, creating the all-new category Grand Performance. Furthermore, in 2007 Yokohama announced a patented solution called AIRTEX Advanced Liner. Engineered by blending rubber and plastic molecules, AIRTEX is lighter but less porous than conventional butyl liners. This means that less air leaks out, keeping the tire properly inflated over time while delivering improved rolling resistance thanks to the liner being lighter.

Regarding innovations in the truck and bus segment, we are also proud to say we have products that are performing excellently. As a tire rotates under a load thousands and thousands of times the stress on the steel casing and rubber compounds is tremendous, which can age tires prematurely. Our exclusive technologies help combat this fatigue, reinforcing the casings to extend tire life and allowing for multiple retreads and reducing maintenance costs. Tires are one of the biggest expenses of a fleet company and if the deciding factor is price, this can often prove to be more expensive. Therefore, we try to advise customers that in the long term the best tire is that which delivers the lowest cost per kilometer.

Q: How does Yokohama manage direct relationships with OEMs based in Mexico?

A: Expanding OEM business worldwide, especially outside Japan, is a basic strategy in The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd group. Yokohama Rubber Co. already has connections with most OEMs in the world and our offices in Japan, Asia, Europe and the NAFTA region are in contact with them daily to discuss future business. As a result, Yokohama Rubber Co. has already supplied our premium tires to the industry leading including Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Lexus, Mazda and many others around the world.