WASHINGTON—Following a downturn last year, shipments of passenger and light truck tires to the U.S. replacement market will reach all-time highs in 1996—and again next year— according to the Tire Market Analysis Committee of the Rubber Manufacturers Association (TMAC). Aftermarket demand for these tires has increased substantially this year, said RMA President Thomas E. Cole. The industry expects to ship a record 174 million replacement passenger tires in 1996, he said—up 4.2 percent from the 167 million shipped in 1995, and well above the previous record of 170 million, set in 1994.
Shipments of replacement light truck tires should hit 27.5 million units this year, Mr. Cole said—a 7.8-percent jump from the previous high of 25.5 million units shipped last year.
In 1997, replacement passenger shipments will grow more slowly, advancing 1.1 percent to 176 million units, the TMAC predicted, while light truck tire shipments will climb 8.4 percent to 27.8 million units.
The TMAC said it was particularly cautious in projecting demand for replacement truck tires, but forecast little change in shipments in 1996 and 1997 from the 1995 level of 11.7 million units.
Original equipment passenger tire shipments are expected to finish 1996 slightly ahead of 1995 levels—57.4 million units vs. 57 million last year. For light truck tires, OE shipments are anticipated to slip to 5.7 million units this year from 6 million in 1995.
The TMAC said many light-truck-type vehicles are being equipped with passenger tires on the assembly line, resulting in disproportionate increases in OE passenger tire shipments.
The trend is expected to continue in 1997, when the TMAC anticipates OE passenger tire shipments of 59.9 million and OE light truck tire shipments of 5.5 million.
OE shipments of medium truck tires are forecast to fall by nearly one-quarter in 1996 after reaching a record 5.36 million units last year. The TMAC anticipates shipments of 4.1 million medium truck tires this year, with another near-5-percent decline in 1997 to 3.9 million units.