WASHINGTON-Goodyear's latest monthly investor update shows October tire shipments down by 10 percent from the same period last year, and this figure is likely to be fairly consistent with the Rubber Manufacturers Association's year-end projections for tire shipments.
A well-known industry analyst, however, said last year's Firestone recall has skewed comparisons between 2000 and 2001 tire shipments.
``In October, industry shipments of consumer replacement tires were 10 percent below last year's levels,'' Goodyear said in its update. ``Goodyear shipments in total of consumer replacement tires were also down. In October, Goodyear shipped about 200,000 tires as part of the Ford replacement program.''
October shipments of commercial replacement tires rose from the year-ago period, Goodyear said, but original equipment shipments dropped 11 percent for consumer tires and 24 percent for commercial tires.
``Goodyear's unit shipments were better than the industry for consumer tires but below the industry for commercial tires,'' the tire maker said. In light of the weak OE and replacement consumer and commercial markets, significant production cutbacks were made in October. Additionally, substantial production cutbacks are expected in November as the company continues aligning inventories with market conditions.''
At press time, the RMA was preparing its tire shipment projections for the year 2001 and beyond, expecting to issue them on or about Dec. 3. But the association expects total industry shipments in the aggregate to be down about 6 percent for the year, according to Steven Teslik, RMA vice president of management information services.
The association expects a flat market for 2002, but a market increase in 2003, according to Mr. Teslik. ``The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will be dead flat for next year,'' he said.
But Saul Ludwig, a tire industry analyst with McDonald & Co. in Cleveland, thinks the numbers don't really tell the straight story about the current tire market.
``A somewhat artificial situation was created by the (Firestone) recall being in full swing in October 2000,'' Mr. Ludwig said.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced the recall of 6.5 million Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires in August 2000, and the replacement of those tires reached their peak in September and October of that year, Mr. Ludwig noted. On the other hand, Ford Motor Co.'s unilateral replacement of 13 million Wilderness tires in May 2001 had largely died down by October, thus skewing the comparison between October 2000 and October 2001.
As for tire shipments for 2001 and beyond, Mr. Ludwig said he hadn't yet ``solidified'' his projections.