WASHINGTON-Following a record-setting 1994, U.S. tire shipments generally were lower last year, though some new records were set, year-end data from the Rubber Manufacturers Association revealed (See chart on Page 21). Shipments to the original equipment market hit record numbers in the light and medium truck tire categories, but fell in four others. In aftermarket shipments, the brightest spot was in industrial and utility tires, which shot up 20.1 percent to a record 4.53 million units.
Meanwhile, Canadian replacement tire shipments set records in 1995, the Rubber Association of Canada reported, with passenger shipments growing 1.3 percent to a new high of 12.7 million units, while shipments of truck and bus tires climbed 5.6 percent to 3.18 million units.
U.S. shipments of all types of tires totaled 319.7 million units, down 0.8 percent from 1994. That was in line with most analysts' expectations, said Harry Millis of Fundamental Research Inc. in Cleveland, though ``the mix was a little out of line.''
In the car tire segment, replacement shipments slid 2.4 percent to 166.8 million units, while OE shipments were down by nearly the same percentage at just under 57 million units.
``OE was a lot better than most expected,'' Mr. Millis said. ``But particularly the replacement side was a surprise, because I was looking for replacements to be up 1 to 2 percent. . . . (W)e don't really have an explanation for it.''
The RMA also reported shipments of light truck tires rose 0.7 percent to 25.5 million units, while medium/wide-base truck tires skidded 4 percent to 11.9 million units. Farm tire shipments grew 2 percent to an estimated 2.46 million units.
Breaking the long-term trend of 2-percent annual growth, total replacement shipments should slip another 2-3 percent this year, Mr. Millis predicted, while OE should fall about 5 percent.