AKRON—For the first time in years, the U.S. tire industry held its own and even clawed back a bit of market share from imports, according to informaton gleaned from the 2016 Market Data Book, published within the pages of this issue of Tire Business.
U.S. tire manufacturers increased their output across the board last year, according to the latest Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) data, posting gains of 4.2, 1.4 and 2.1 percent in passenger, light truck and medium truck/bus tire production, respectively.
For the first time in years, U.S. production growth outdistanced import growth in the car and light truck sectors. U.S. truck/bus tire production growth fell short of the 9.3-percent gain in imports, however, when the RMA and Department of Commerce data are compared.
Production of passenger tires rose to 126.1 million units, light truck tires to 26.4 million units and medium truck tires to 14.8 million units, the RMA data show.
By contrast, imports of passenger and medium truck tires rose 0.4 and 9.3 percent, respectively, to 149.5 million and 14.4 million units. Imports of light truck tires slipped 6.4 percent to 24.3 million units.
Passenger tire imports from China—the object of the U.S.'s elevated import duties—fell 53.2 percent from record levels in 2014, but overall imports were up slightly. South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan all registered double-digit increases over 2014 to compensate for the drop in Chinese shipments.
On the sales side, Bridgestone Americas solidified its claim to the top spot in North America with estimated tire-related sales of $10.5 billion, measurably ahead of Michelin North America Inc.'s $9.5 billion and Goodyear's $7 billion.
Bridgestone also is considered a leader on the retail side of the ledger, reporting an estimated $4.5 billion in sales through its Bridgestone Retail unit, slightly ahead of mega retailer Discount Tire/America's Tire.
Other Market Data Book nuggets:
c Demand for high-performance tires in the U.S. continued to increase, especially on the replacement side, where tires H rated and higher now represent 38.2 percent of performance tire aftermarket shipments. (See page 23). Growth on the OE side, which had averaged 40 percent the past five years, plateaued a bit last year, while still accounting for more than half of OE fitments.
c Goodyear remained the No. 1 supplier of OE consumer tires last year, outfitting an estimated 28 percent of the 17.7 million cars, SUVs and light trucks built in North America in 2015 with its Goodyear and Dunlop brands. (See page 10) Michelin was No. 2 with its Michelin and BFGoodrich brands, ahead of Bridgestone Americas and Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.
c South Carolina's status as the No. 1 tire-producing state grew, with estimated daily tire production increasing to nearly 103,000 units as expansions by Bridgestone Americas, Continental Tire and Michelin started having an effect.
c U.S. shipments of winter/traction tires grew slightly to a 3.6-percent market share, up from 3.5 percent in 2013. By contrast, winter tires represent 35 percent of aftermarket car tire shipments in Canada.
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