WASHINGTON-U.S. shipments of passenger and light truck tires to both the original equipment and replacement markets should reach record levels this year, according to the Tire Market Analysis Committee (TMAC) of the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Shipments of medium truck tires also are forecast to increase somewhat this year, but decline by 1996, the RMA said.
The modest anticipated growth in replacement passenger tire shipments of just over 1 percent, compared with 1993 levels, still will be enough to push the 1994 total to 167 million units, surpassing the previous record of 165.8 million units set in 1992.
OE shipments should climb more than 10 percent to 57.9 million units, besting the old record of 57.8 million units posted in 1977.
According to RMA President Thomas E. Cole, ``The increasing use of passenger tires in light truck applications has helped fuel this market.''
Factors such as longer tire wear and general economic trends may temper future growth in passenger tire shipments, the TMAC cautioned, adding that performance and speed-rated tires remain the stronger segments of this market.
In the light truck tire category, the TMAC projected a 6.8-percent increase in replacement shipments to 25.2 million units, surpassing the previous high of 22.7 million units in 1990.
OE shipments are expected to jump 15.3 percent to 5.3 million units, exceeding the record 4.8 million units shipped in 1988.
Aftermarket shipments of medium truck tires should edge up to 11.5 million units this year from 11.4 million in 1993, the TMAC said, but decline to 11.3 million units by 1996. OE shipments likely will climb 10.5 percent to 4.2 million units for 1994, but decline to 3.6 million units by 1996.
In the area of international trade, U.S. exports of passenger tires are predicted to reach 20 million units in 1994, a new record. Light truck tire exports also should set a new mark of 3.3 million units, the TMAC said.
At the same time, U.S. imports of passenger tires are forecast to reach a record 44 million units this year, while those of light truck tires will rise nearly 13 percent to 4.4 million units.
The TMAC comprises forecast professionals from more than 20 major tire manufacturers active in the U.S. market.