WASHINGTON—U.S. tire production is failing to keep pace with demand, as represented by total tire shipments—and in the case of passenger tires, output actually is falling while total shipments rise. Imports of tires into the U.S. have risen significantly in an effort to bridge the gap between demand and supply, but persistent reports of low fill rates from dealers around the country indicate that shortfalls remain.
Through the first seven months of the year, total shipments of passenger tires rose 4.3 percent, while production fell 5.1 percent, according to the most recent data from the Rubber Manufacturers Association. At the same time, imports shot up 19.1 percent.
For light truck tires, while production grew 4.7 percent, total shipments climbed nearly twice as fast: 9.8 percent. Imports for the seven months jumped 15.3 percent.
Total shipments of medium and wide-base truck tires grew at more that twice the rate of production—10.5 percent vs. 4.0 percent—while imports leapt 39.0 percent.