WASHINGTON-Tire shipments to the U.S. replacement market grew across the board in 1993, with the sole exception of the passenger tire category, where shipments were less than half a percent shy of 1992's record level. At the same time, shipments of original equipment tires to vehicle manufacturers climbed by double-digit percentages in every tire category, according to year-end data from the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
In Canada, replacement tire shipments also showed significant growth across the board, according to the Rubber Association of Canada, which does not supply information on OE tire shipments.
Total U.S. shipments of all types of tires rose 3.7 percent in 1993 to 298.4 million units, compared with 287.6 million units the previous year.
On the replacement side, passenger tire shipments slipped 0.4 percent to 165.1 million units from a record 165.8 million in 1992. However, shipments of light truck tires gained 0.8 percent to 22.8 million units, while those of other truck and bus tires climbed 7.3 percent to 11.9 million units.
Shipments of replacement tractor and implement tires increased 5.2 percent to 2.39 million units, of which nearly 5 percent were radials. Aftermarket industrial and utility tire shipments jumped 10 percent to 3.12 million units, 99.7 percent of which were non-radial.
The improving fortunes of most U.S. vehicle makers were reflected in increased demand for original equipment tires. Shipments of OE passenger tires climbed 13 percent to 52.3 million units; OE light truck tires shot up 23.6 percent to 4.59 million units; and OE truck and bus tire shipments grew 15.8 percent to 3.98 million units.
OE shipments of tractor and implement tires rose 12.9 percent to 853,000 units-12.2 percent of which were radial-while those of industrial and utility tires leaped 16.2 percent to 8.64 million units-almost none of which were radials.
Reviewing the data on passenger, light truck and other truck/bus tires, industry observer Harry Millis of Fundamental Research Inc. in Cleveland said the numbers were close to what he had projected. He said OE shipments should continue to grow at a faster rate than replacements through 1994, due in part to the abnormally large size of the 3- to 4-year old car population-a situation that should persist into the second half of 1995.
The analyst projected overall OE shipment growth in the three tire categories of nearly 7 percent this year. He expects OE passenger tire shipments to rise 6 percent, light truck tires to gain 10 percent and truck/bus tires to be up 7 percent.
On the replacement side, he predicted overall shipments would rise 2 million units, or about 1 percent. He said he expects about half that increase-about 1 million units-to be in passenger tires, with the remainder divided about evenly between light truck and other truck/bus.
Such an increase in replacement passenger tire shipments would put the 1994 total slightly ahead of 1992's record.
In the Canadian aftermarket, passenger tire shipments climbed 12.3 percent to 11.5 million units. Shipments of truck and bus tires (including light truck) leaped 23.9 percent to 2.79 million units, and those of tractor and implement tires surged 12.8 percent to 278,516 units.
Bruce Meyer, Crain News Service, in Akron contributed to this report.