The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) is projecting moderate increases in replacement passenger and light tire shipments this year, but original equipment (OE) shipments are expected to drop again.
Demand for replacement passenger and light truck tires should edge up about 1.5 percent over 2007 shipments, the RMA said, to 207 million and 35 million units, respectively, as the current economic environment will dampen growth for both categories. Replacement passenger tire shipments should continue growing in 2009 by about 2 percent, the RMA forecast.
OE passenger tire demand is expected to drop about 4 percent to 44 million units this year as domestic vehicle production declines due to sales trends and a soft economic climate, the RMA said. This will mark the sixth consecutive year that domestic light vehicle production has decreased and the third consecutive year of decreased vehicle sales.
OE light truck tire shipments are forecast to slip about 6 percent to 4.2 million units on lower domestic vehicle production.
By contrast, replacement medium truck tire shipments are expected to fall 1.6 percent this year to 16.3 million units, while OE truck tire sales should rebound by about 1 percent this year to roughly 4.7 million units. This will be followed by a 20-percent jump in 2009 as OE truck sales resume normal levels and economic activity improves.
The replacement decline reflects a weaker and more uncertain economy and less movement of goods, the RMA said.