WASHINGTON (Aug. 4, 2008) – U.S. tire shipments could fall as much as 4 percent this year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), to fewer than 300 million units.
The projected drop in shipments reflects the worsening domestic economic pressures predicted for both the consumer and commercial sectors, the RMA said, with original equipment shipments falling by double-digit percentages
The combined 2008 original equipment and replacement tire shipments for light vehicle and truck categories are expected to fall by more than 12 million units to about 298 million total shipments.
Replacement passenger tire shipments will drop nearly 1 percent, the RMA said, to about 202 million units, as a slowing economy and high energy prices are affecting consumer driving habits. Demand in 2009 likely will be unchanged due to continuing difficult economic conditions.
Replacement light truck tire shipments could be off as much as 7 percent this year to about 32 million units and another 5 percent next year as the owners of light commercial vehicles are driving them less amid the declining economic conditions, the RMA said.
Replacement shipments of medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires should slide 3.5 percent this year to about 16 million units as the weakening economy means fewer goods are being transported.
OE car tire shipments are expected to fall 11 percent to about 41 million units, the lowest volume of OE tire shipments since 1991 when the OE sector accounted for 41.8 million units, the RMA said.
OE car tire shipments should fall another 3 percent in 2009, reflecting a protracted economic recovery and continued market share gains for light vehicle imports.
OE light truck tire shipments are expected to fall more than 35 percent to about 2.8 million units, reflecting a shift in consumer demand for vehicles with higher fuel economy, a shift in vehicle fitments to P-metric passenger tires and market share increases by imported vehicle makers.
For 2009, a modest 200,000 unit increase is anticipated owing to a projected resumption of economic growth in the commercial sectors that utilize light truck vehicles.
OE truck tire demand will fall about 12 percent this year to nearly 4.1 million units, because of the the larger-than-anticipated economic slowdown in the commercial sector.
This sector could rebound by as much as 24 percent in 2009 as economic activity improves and truck sales increase in anticipation of changes in Environmental Protection Agency regulations for 2010 that will inspire a “pull-forward” effect of truck sales into 2009, the RMA said.