AKRON—North America's tire manufacturing industry lost ground to imports last year for the second straight year, despite billions of dollars committed to American tire plants in the past several years.
That's one revelation culled from the collection of statistics, rankings and other tabular matter, collectively know as the Market Data Book. (See pages 9-29.)
2014 could, or perhaps should, see North American production pick up again, as several new plant projects ramp up to full scale after beginning trial production last year.
Last year production of passenger and light truck tires in the U.S. fell 3.4 and 7.6 percent, respectively, while imports into the U.S. of those same tires jumped 12.8 and 18.8 percent, respectively, according to preliminary data from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and U.S. Department of Commerce.
Domestic production of truck and bus tires, on the other hand, was up 4.6 percent, while imports slipped 3.5 percent.
On the sales side, Bridgestone Americas pulled ahead of Goodyear in terms of tire-related revenue in North America and moved closer to Michelin North America Inc., which retained the top spot among tire companies active in North America.
At the same time, mega retailer Discount Tire/America's Tire pulled even with and moved slightly ahead of Bridgestone Americas' retail store network in terms of revenue, both reported more than $4 billion in sales, according to Tire Business estimates.
Discount Tire/America's Tire operates fewer than half the number of stores, however—875 at year-end 2013 vs. 2,214.
Other nuggets of information gleaned from the Market Data Book include:
- Demand for high-performance tires continued to increase, both on the OE and replacement side, to nearly one-half and one-third, respectively. The share for speed-rated tires, H and higher, rose 5 percentage points to 48.9 percent of all OE shipments, while the share of high speed-rated tires in the aftermarket jumped 1.5 points to 32 percent.
- Goodyear remained the No. 1 supplier of OE consumer tires last year, outfitting nearly one-third of the 16.3 million cars, SUVs and light trucks built in North America in 2012 with its Goodyear and Dunlop brands. Michelin North America Inc. was No. 2, ahead of Bridgestone Americas and Continental Tire the Americas.
- South Carolina has slipped passed Oklahoma as the largest producing state, with an estimated 89,000 units of daily tire production, as new plants and expansions by Bridgestone Americas, Continental Tire and Michelin began having an effect.
- Import brands increased their estimated shares of the U.S. passenger and light truck markets at the expense of the makers' flag and associate brands. (See page 9.) The Market Data Book also contains benchmarking information on the automotive service sector and summaries of Tire Business' retail, commercial and retread rankings from 2013.