WASHINGTON (Mar. 13, 2000) — While U.S. tire shipments reached records in six different categories last year, domestic production did not keep pace with the stepped-up demand, opening the door for greatly expanded imports, according to the latest Rubber Manufacturers Association data.
The situation was particularly acute in passenger tires, where U.S. shipments grew 3.4 percent to 280.3 million units, while production fell 2.2 percent to 214.7 million units. Imports, on the other hand, jumped 22.3 percent to 67 million tires.
In medium and wide base truck tires, total shipments were up 8.5 percent to 23.8 million units, but production rose only 4.4 percent, to 14.9 million tires. Imports of truck tires soared 29 percent during the year, to 10.9 million units.
Shipments of light truck tires grew 9.2 percent, to 46.2 million units, while production eased up only 3 percent, to 37.8 million units. Imports overall grew only 7.9 percent, but imports of radial light truck tires were up 21.5 percent.