U.S. tire shipments this year should rise by about 1.2 percent over 2005, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).
Increases in the replacement tire market are expected to offset decreases in original equipment shipments. The rising number of tire shipments for 2006 continues to reflect steady economic growth in the consumer and commercial sectors, the RMA said.
The group projects annualized growth of approximately 1.7 percent for total tire shipments through 2011, reflecting increases in the nation's Gross Domestic Product and Industrial Production Index. The combined OE and replacement shipments for the auto and truck categories are anticipated to rise by 2.2 million units to 320.8 million total shipments in 2005-not the 325 million the RMA originally forecast in December.
By 2011, the RMA projects this figure to jump to approximately 352 million units.
The RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2006 through 2011 are:
* Replacement passenger tire: The passenger replacement market will increase by slightly more then 2 percent to more than 206 million units for 2006. Growth in this category is due predominantly to increases in certain subcategories, including the P-metric tire market (for SUVs)-projected to grow more than 10 percent-and the high- and ultra-high-performance tire markets-projected to increase more than 5 percent and 11 percent, respectively, over 2005.
Overall, the passenger replacement market will continue to increase at approximately 2 percent per year through 2011, at which point total units shipped will approach 227 million. Steady growth in this segment is attributed largely to continued growth in the number of vehicles on the road and increasing vehicle miles traveled.
* Replacement light truck tire: This market segment is projected to increase by approximately 200,000 units to 36.2 million units in 2006 with continued growth through 2011 at an average annualized growth rate of approximately 2 percent or approximately 40 million units shipped.
* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: This market is projected to be 17.8 million units in 2006 mainly as a result of the continued growth in industrial production. An annualized growth of just less than 1 percent will be realized through 2011 at which time shipments are estimated to be more than 18 million units. Heavy on-highway truck tires are now included in reporting in this category to obtain a more accurate portrayal of the commercial tire market.
* OE passenger tires: Shipments are projected to drop by more than 2 percent to approximately 52 million units in 2006 as sales and production of domestic light vehicles drop. A modest annualized growth of approximately 1 percent is expected through 2011 as total shipments return to the 55 million unit level as a result of increases in light vehicle sales and production and increases in the popularity of cross-over utility vehicles, which are fitted with OE passenger tires.
* OE light truck tires: Demand of approximately 6 million units is projected for 2006 and it is forecasted to remain at or near this level through 2011 as consumers opt for smaller-sized sport-utility and light truck vehicles, which are fitted with P-metric passenger tires. Service trailer tires are no longer included in this category due to a change in reporting that began this year; thus, figures for previous years are not comparable.
* OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: Sales of commercial vehicles will experience modest growth in 2006 due to continued vehicle replacement de-mand and response to future changes in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission regulations.
The net result will be 6.5 million OE shipments of these tires for 2006. Shipments could fall 15 percent in 2007 after which growth will be erratic in response to additional EPA emission regulations taking effect in 2010. Starting this year, heavy on-highway truck tires are included in this category in order to obtain a more accurate portrayal of the commercial tire market.