WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2001)—U.S. tire shipments in 2001 will fall 6.2 percent from 2000 with little or no growth anticipated for 2002, the Rubber Manufacturers Association in its latest market forecast. A slow economic turnaround toward the end of next year should lay the foundation for 5.8-percent growth in 2003, the RMA said, to 316 million units—equal to 1999 shipments.
In units, the decline is 20 million units from the 2000 level.
Replacement passenger tire shipments—the single largest category—this year will end up 3.4 percent shy of the 2000 plateau at 192 million units and then decline 1.6 percent next year to 189 million units before rebounding in 2003 to 197 million units.
Shipments this year have been buoyed by the effects of Ford Motor Co.'s replacement of 13 million Firestone P-metric light truck tires, but this anomoly will have a negative effect on the 2002 and to some effect 2003 numbers as sales that normally would have taken place in those years were accelerated into 2001, the RMA said.
Shipments of replacement P-metric light truck tires will hit 29 million this year—an 8-percent rise over 2000—but will suffer a 17-percent drop next year to 24 million units before rebounding in 2003 to 30 million.
Within the passenger tire replacement segment, demand for H/V/Z speed-rated tires is up about 12 percent this year and should continue to grow at about 10 percent annually in 2002 and 2003, the RMA said.
Replacement medium/wide-base truck tire shipments are forecasted to decrease 8.8 percent this year to 13.7 million units as a result of the contraction of the manufacturing sector and weak economy in general. A modest rebound of 2.2 and 4.3 percent, respectively, is forecast for 2002 and 2003.
Shipments of original equipment passenger tires will end up 2001 about 9.4 percent below 2000 numbers at 54.4 million units, and will decline again next year by 3 percent, the RMA predicts, before bouncing back in 2003 to more than 57 million units.
Light truck OE tires slid 12.6 percent this year to 6.4 million units; demand for 2002 should be down slightly but then rebound strongly in 2003 to 7.3 million units. OE demand for medium/wide-base truck tires fell nearly 38 percent this year, to 3.5 million units.