AKRON—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., Goodyear and Michelin North America Inc. recently announced price increases on commercial light truck and recreational vehicle tires that took effect as the new year began. BFS raised prices between 1.5 and 3 percent on 13 sizes of Bridgestone brand commercial light truck tires on Jan. 1, while Goodyear hiked prices 3 percent on its Unisteel line of commercial light truck tires on Jan. 2.
Tire sizes involved in the increases range from 16- to 19.5-inch tires.
Goodyear also recently announced a 2.5-percent increase in the price of its radial commercial tires covering the Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly and private label brands.
Michelin said it is raising prices on some tires and lowering them on others, but that the net effect of the changes will be a 0.6-percent increase in the price of its 19.5- and 22.5-inch Michelin-brand recreational vehicle tires. Michelin's price changes went into effect Jan. 1.
Other tire companies—including Continental General Tire Inc., Pirelli Tire North America Inc., Yokohama Tire Corp., Kumho U.S.A. Inc. and Hankook Tire America Corp.—revealed no imminent plans to raise prices.
With the rising cost of raw materials—particularly petroleum-based synthetics, such as styrene and butadiene—it's not surprising that tire makers are raising prices, said Michael Sison, an analyst with McDonald Investments Inc.
Oil prices have more than doubled compared with the beginning of the year. Oil now is selling in the $20-$24 per barrel range, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Sison said the price increases could stick because domestic demand for commercial light truck and commercial truck tires is still strong while improving Asian economies are shrinking the volume of imports being sent to North America.
"Domestic demand is there," he said. "There is a good chance the tire manufacturers can get a price increase to stick."
Although tire prices may rise again if the cost of raw materials continues to balloon, the most recent spate of increases probably is not a general trend toward more expensive tires, Mr. Sison said.
Competition, both domestically and internationally, he said, forces tire manufacturers to be conservative about price increases.