The Rubber Manufacturers Association has revised upward its forecast for U.S. tire shipments this year, predicting they will exceed 2003 shipments by 4.1 percent based on the impact of ``broad-based economic growth in the consumer and commercial sectors.''
Overall, the RMA sees shipments of car and light, medium and heavy truck tires rising by 12.6 million units to nearly 323 million units, led by original equipment medium truck tires (up 32 percent) and replacement light truck tires (up 9.9 percent). Earlier this year the association estimated growth of 3.2 percent.
Shipments of OE passenger tires, on the other hand, are seen falling by more than 1 percent to 54 million units as domestic car production declines and light trucks and light truck-based vehicles claim larger shares of the market.
Beyond this year, the RMA projects annualized shipment growth of about 2 percent through 2009, reflecting improvements in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and Industrial Production Index.
Specifically, the RMA forecasts:
* Replacement passenger tire shipments rising 4 percent to more than 210 million units this year and continue growing at 2.4 percent a year through 2009 to reach 227 million units.
* Replacement light truck tire shipments hitting 37.9 million units this year and growing at a 2.3-percent pace annually.
* Replacement medium truck tire shipments growing 3.2 percent this year, to 16 million units, with 2-percent annual growth through 2009.
* OE light truck tire shipments should grow by 5.1 percent to 8.3 million units this year, but the growth rate will slow over time, averaging only about 1.3 percent through 2009.
* OE medium truck tire demand pushing shipments up by nearly a third this year to 5.5 million units. Shipments should continue growing at more than 10 percent a year through 2006 but then decline again after stricter emission standards come into effect in 2007.