The North American tire market continues to evolve toward greater concentration in the distribution sector, toward greater size proliferation and increased penetration of both imports and high-performance tires.
These are a few of the trends gleaned from statistics presented in Tire Business' 23rd annual Market Data Book, starting on page 9 in this issue.
The Market Data Book is Tire Business' annual summary of statistics and trends compiled from our own research along with data from the relevant trade associations: Rubber Manufacturers Association (preliminary data), Rubber Assocation of Canada, Automotive Service Association, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, several U.S. government agencies, and other sources.
Among other trends seen in this year's Market Data Book are:
* Local dealerships—defined by the RMA as those with fewer than 10 outlets in a single distribution area—lost ground last year, losing a point of passenger tire market share to national chains.
Local dealerships now control 22 percent of replacement tire shipments and regional dealerships—those with 10 or more outlets in at least two regions—accounting for 11 percent.
Local dealerships held ground at 31 percent share when it comes to light truck tires, the RMA data show. Regional and national dealership chains each picked up a point of share, to 14 and 34 percent, respectively, taking share from the tire company chains and general merchandise distributors.
* U.S. passenger tire production dropped 2.7 percent to 131.2 million units, whereas light truck tire production rose 9.3 percent to 26.1 million units and medium truck/bus tire output jumped 15.3 percent to 14.2 million units.
Imports shadowed overall market trends, with passenger and light truck tire imports rising slightly and medium truck tire imports jumping nearly 20 percent over 2010.
* Winter tire shipments edged up about 700,000 units, or 8 percent, to represent 4.9 percent of replacement tire shipments, the RMA data show. Shipments of all-season tires dropped more than 5 million units.
* Performance tires claimed 29.2 percent of the aftermarket, up from 27.8 percent in 2010, with shipments of V-rated tires up almost 10 percent and those of Z-rated tires rising nearly 5 percent. Performance tires have gained share for seven consecutive years.
* Size proliferation continues. The 10 most prevalent passenger tire sizes in the aftermarket accounted for 22.5 percent of industry shipments last year, the RMA data show, down from 23.6 percent in 2010 and 24.6 percent in 2009.
Among the top 10 sizes last year were two new ones: 225/60R16 and 195/60R15. The most popular sizes were P235/75R15 and P225/60R16, which tied at No. 1 with 3-percent market share.
* The RMA's data show manufacturers' flag brands firmed their share dominance in both passenger and light truck tires, with private brands accounting for just 9 percent of those segments.
Tire Business' independent analysis of the market shows import brands—those belonging to foreign-based manufacturers that have no manufacturing capacity in North America—account for about 22 percent of the passenger tire market and 17 percent of the light truck tire segment.
Among individual brands, there was relatively little movement of brands in a down year for passenger tire shipments. One notable change: the Bridgestone brand moved ahead of the Firestone brand.
* On the OE side, Goodyear's declaration a while back that it was going to be more selective with its OE acounts translated into a slightly lower overall share of the North American OE business, dropping to about 29 percent.
New to the OE fraternity is Nexen Tire America Inc., which is supplying Hyundai-Kia Motor Corp. with tires for the Kia Optima. The emergence of Nexen as an OE supplier brings to nine the number of companies supplying North American vehicle assembly plants, although the four major tire makers—Goodyear, Michelin North America Inc., Bridgestone Americas and Continental Tire the Americas—control nearly 90 percent of the market.
The 10 most prevalant OE tire sizes accounted for 36.3 percent of shipments last year, up slightly from 2010, but there were three new sizes, including the second 18-inch fitment, among the top 10: P235/65R17, P205/65R16 and P265/60R18.
Reflecting the speed at which tire size popularity changes, only two of the 10 most prevalent replacement tire sizes—P215/60R16 and P265/70R17—are among the 10 top OE sizes, although those two sizes are Nos. 1 and 2 on the OE list, accounting for more than 14 percent of 2011 fitments.