Imports of tires with 17 inch and higher rim diameters jumped 13 percent last year over 2016 to 46 million units, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data.
The import data don't show speed ratings, so tires of this size don't necessarily correspond to the H-rated and above category, but a generalized comparison can be drawn, thus it can be shown that imports represent roughly half of the performance tire category.
The OE share of performance tires jumped five points to 55.8 percent, the USTMA data reveal, even though shipments to OE customers actually slipped 4.1 percent to 25.2 million units.
The share rose because overall shipments of OE passenger tires to North American light vehicle producers fell even more, 6.9 percent, reflecting a drop in production in 2017 in North America of cars, SUVs, light trucks, etc. to 17.2 million units.
The shift at OE is also reflected in the breakdown of OE tire sizes, where the 10 most popular sizes are now all 17-, 18- or 20-inch rim diameter sizes, including two — 235/60R18 and 245/60R18 — that are new to the top 10.
Another form of performance tire — winter/traction tires — didn't fare so well, the USTMA data show.
Shipments of designated winter tires slid for a second straight year — by about 36 percent — and accounted for just 2.1 percent of all replacement car tire shipments last year.
These statistics and others can be found in the 2018 Market Data Book, inside the Feb. 12 issue of Tire Business.