WASHINGTON (Nov. 30, 2006) – U.S. tire shipments this year will come up about 4.5 percent shy of those recorded in 2005, according to the latest Rubber Manufacturers Association forecast.
The decrease reflects a worsening of the market since the RMA projected a 2.8-percent drop in August and a 1-percent increase back in March.
The biggest changes are in passenger tires, with replacement units expected to fall 3.2 percent, or about 6.5 million units, to 196 million. Originally the RMA expected replacement passenger tire shipments this year would grow to 206 million units. The association anticipates a modest rebound next year to about 200 million units.
Original equipment passenger tire demand also is falling. The latest forecast is for an 8-percent drop from 2005, to 48 million units, reflecting the decline in domestic light vehicle production, the RMA said. Demand in 2007 should be flat with 2006.
Overall, the RMA cites a shrinking gross domestic product in 2006, higher energy costs and a declining housing market for the worsening shipment projections.
Replacement light truck tire shipments should fall approximately 7.2 percent, or nearly 2.6 million units, to 33.4 million units due to the increasing popularity and numbers of cross-over vehicles and smaller sport-utility vehicles that use P-metric passenger tires rather than light truck tires, the RMA said.
OE light truck tire shipments should end up at about 5 million units this year – no comparison with 2005 is possible due to a change in the reporting methodology – and rise next year about 4 percent.
Replacement commercial truck tires shipments will end the year 2 percent behind 2005 at 17.2 million units, the RMA said, but should rebound next year by about the same amount to reach 17.5 million units.
Shipments of OE commercial truck tires should hit 6.8 million units, a gain of nearly 9 percent, or 560,000 units, because of the significant growth of sales of commercial truck vehicles over the calendar year as a result of continued vehicle replacement demand and response to changes in 2007 Environmental Protection Agency emission regulations.
OE shipments next year likely will fall sharply, as much as 20 percent or approximately 1.5 million units, due to the “pulled-ahead” truck sales this year that normally would have been realized in 2007.