Looking to 2014
Tire makers are forecasting that 2014 will exhibit many of the same conditions as 2013 — but maybe to a less-severe degree.
"We're not going to see a huge recovery back to the days of 2006," Mr. Brennan said.
"It's still going to be a similar challenge as it was in 2013. There may be some easing of the pressure and the growth of the low-priced tires coming into the marketplace because it's kind of starting to equalize a little bit."
Overall, he said, there is not going to be a huge change in the marketplace.
Mr. McNamara said low-cost radial tire manufacturers "entering the market and disrupting market harmonies" may be an issue for the industry in 2014.
"As an industry, we must continue to ensure responsibility and ethics for manufacturing of quality tires for the North American consumer at a reasonable price," he added.
Mr. Hamaya said in the consumer segment, "We expect increased demand, but also increased competition.
"There are many low-cost imports, which are impacting everyone in the market."
He said Yokohama believes its strategy is "poised to succeed…. We expect to improve upon our success in 2013. The market will still be challenging, but we are in a good position."
Mr. Hamaya said he thinks demand in the commercial tire business will continue to improve throughout the year. "The competition will increase, too, because everybody sees the opportunities," he added. "OTR will come back…but not in 2014. It will take a couple more years."
The firm has several new products scheduled to launch in all three segments, he said, "and we are committed to continued growth in the U.S."
Mr. Baratta said Bridgestone expects continued increases in the OE and replacement markets "with more first replacement sales as the economy continues to improve, and given the increases the industry has seen in new vehicle sales over the last several years."
In the commercial segment, Mr. Stevenson said Bridgestone expects "very moderate growth in 2014."
Mr. Choi said Kumho started to see success toward the second half of 2013 and expects to see that trend continue into 2014.
Mr. Phoenix sees the economy "improving slightly and we are once again optimistic about our continued growth in the U.S. replacement market in 2014."
Mr. Barratta pointed out that after two years of mild winters, the 2013 winter has been more traditional, which has "been great for the Blizzak (winter tire) sales and bodes well for 2014 sales.
"We feel primed because we have a new Bridgestone Blizzak tire coming online, as well."
Mr. Stevenson said the areas of concern going into 2014 include "the slow growth of the economy and the impact of health care on small businesses. And as always, we will be keeping an eye on the competitive landscape."
Mr. Brennan said one of Falken's focuses for 2014 will be on its dealers and their needs.
One of the challenges dealers had in 2013, he said, has been pricing in the marketplace, and some of these challenges have impacted the dealers' ability to "withstand the pressure of lost profit in the marketplace, so we're taking efforts in 2014 to help on the educational point of view, help on face-to-face, interfacing with not just the dealer principles, but the counter people to focus more on education" and what the impact of some of the decisions can have.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 330-865-6143.