WASHINGTON — U.S. tire shipments could fall nearly 18% this year from 2019 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-induced lower demand, according to a shipments update from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA).
Total shipments could fall to their lowest level in decades, 273.6 million, the USTMA data show, with the OE sector taking the bigger hit — down 24% — and replacement truck tire shipments faring the best, down "just" 7.3% from 2019.
The USTMA said it decided to issue this update now to "better reflect the impact of the pandemic on the tire manufacturing sector." Normally the trade group publishes shipment data three time annually – in February, July and at year-end.
By individual category, industry shipments will be:
- Replacement passenger — down 17.2% to 184.4 million units from 222.6 million;
- Replacement light truck — down 16% to 27.3 million units, from 32.5 million;
- Replacement medium truck — down 7.3% to 17.6 million units, from 18.9 million;
- OE passenger — down 24.3% to 35 million units, from 46.3 million;
- OE light truck — down 18.4% to 4.8 million units, from 5.9 million; and
- OE medium truck — down 30.7% to 4.5 million units, from 6.5 million.
The USTMA did not elaborate on the factors it took into account in calculating its projections.
In early March, prior to the recognition that the coronavirus would cause economic havoc, the USTMA said it expected U.S. tire shipments would increase slightly over 2019 to 333.2 million units, led by strong aftermarket demand for truck tires.