EXCLUSIVE- Increasing Adoption of High Performance Lubricants Is Driving Growth For Valvoline

BW Autoworld recently spoke to Sandeep Kalia, Managing Director, Valvoline Cummins Pvt. Ltd, about Valvolines new initiatives towards its stakeholders, its foray into EV fluids and plans for 2022.

While the last two years have been tough for the automobile industry, it has bounced back in a big way and its allied sectors have also scripted a strong comeback story.

BW Autoworld recently spoke to  Sandeep Kalia, Managing Director, Valvoline Cummins Pvt. Ltd, about Valvoline's new initiatives towards its stakeholders, its foray into EV fluids and plans for 2022.


Valvoline is known for its initiatives towards its stakeholders- mechanics, truck drivers, workshop owners, etc. Can you elaborate on some important initiatives taken by the brand Valvoline and the idea behind those initiatives?  

The pandemic has affected the livelihood of millions, and one of the most severely hit communities was that of drivers and mechanics. The lockdown meant that cars remained parked in garages and did not require maintenance. Throughout the trying times, our team dedicated their efforts to reach out to our stakeholders during such difficult times. It was not only to do business but to understand their needs and their wellbeing.  

As a part of CSR Initiatives, we launched a scholarship programme which aims to support the education of children of truck drivers, mechanics, and children from economically weaker sections of India, between 9th and 12th standard. Furthermore, the company donated a 100 bed COVID care facility equipped with IV stands and oxygen concentrators, PPE and Hygiene Kits and supported government hospitals by donating crucial medical equipment in Gurgaon and Sonipat.

Last year in March, Valvoline globally celebrated ‘Mechanics Month’ to express our gratitude towards mechanics and thank them for their ongoing, everyday service and moving the world especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a premium automotive lubricant brand, we aim to deliver performance and superior quality which our customers across the globe enjoy. To ensure the same, we launched Bike & Truck Xpert programs with an objective to upskill the network of independent mechanic workshops and service providers, making them adept with knowledge of current and future technologies. In addition to that, we launched a CRM application Valvoline Connect to support our partners and help enabling them to maintain a continuous relationship with their customer base.

The brand has launched EV Performance fluids in 2019. How has the customer response been in the past couple of years? How much has the demand grown ? 

As an innovation pioneer of the category, Valvoline as a brand has been innovating and delivering solutions ahead of and in line with the market. We were the first to introduce fully synthetic products in the market with the evolution of technology. Given EVs are the next step in the technology adoption curve, we are ready with the requisite products in our portfolio. In India, the category is still very nascent especially in heavy duty. In the two-wheeler space, we are now seeing some momentum however we believe it will still take some time for a critical mass to be attained.

Can you elaborate on your recently launched Bike and Truck Xpert Program? How is it helping the stakeholders?

Through our mechanics and driver community, we got the feedback that there were knowledge gaps concerning repairing and maintaining BS 4 and BS 6 engines. We felt the need to educate and train them in the latest technical know-how and laid a systemic plan to organise workshops far and wide. 

We launched the Truck Xpert program as a result. Through this platform, we organise workshops for independent mechanics and update their knowledge on latest engine technologies. 

As part of the Bike Xpert program, we have enabled the participating workshops with a unique CRM app called Valvoline Connect that helps them in maintaining a continuous service relationship with the end consumers. Additionally, we also brand these workshops and provide them with a distinct identity and help drive traffic to them via our digital marketing initiatives, in collaboration with Google.

For mechanics in far flung places, we have 4 trucks with live BS 4 and BS 6 Cummins engines that travel the country's length and breadth to update 

mechanics with the latest technical know-how. We have seen an encouraging response for both the initiatives, and we plan to collaborate with 2,000 more such workshops in the next 3-5 years. 

Can you shed some light on the overview of the auto lubricant industry? How is the industry evolving, especially in the post covid era?

 For 2020-21, the lubricant industry is estimated to have shrunk close to double-digit in volumes, whereas Valvoline has recorded similar revenues. The second pandemic wave took a toll on several industries alike across segments, including the automotive lubricants industry. 

The automotive lubricants market is expected to register a CAGR of over 3% for 2020 – 2026 and increasing adoption of high-performance lubricants is driving the market. High mileage engine oils have been in demand lately as the average age of vehicles has been growing. Additionally, an increasing urban population is expected to drive the market further. However, COVID-19 had negatively impacted the production and sales of vehicles, and it is also likely to affect the demand for automotive lubricants during the short term. But since the market is picking up again, we’re out of the woods and expect growth going forward.

The Auto Industry has been badly affected by the supply chain issues, how is Valvoline coming to terms with it?

It did not affect us much as we already had sufficient raw materials through the first wave which helped us sail through it. Taking the learnings from the first phase, we were much better prepared during the second wave. Our Supply Chain Management team did a commendable job sourcing raw materials from right places to ensure that there was no pause in the everyday continuity of business, and managing the inventory. There was never a moment throughout that we were out of raw materials. Not even when imports were banned. 

What all is lined up for 2022?

In 2021 we launched a few initiatives such as Bike & Truck Xpert programs, Mechanic Month and our high impact TVC campaign ‘Baccho Jaisa Janoon’.  All these initiatives not only helped in improving awareness levels and brand recognition levels, but we also developed relationships with our mechanic and driver community– which is a primary goal for Valvoline. 

This year, we aim to focus on a more nuanced approach to engage with our partners and stakeholders and appreciate their efforts. In addition to that, we will ensure that the marketing strategy continues to build on our Original Engine Oil story across touch-points and communicates the values of passion for continuous innovation, trust and reliable partnership.

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