BRUSSELS — Buoyed by double-digit growth in the major replacement tire categories, the European tire industry enjoyed a "positive year of recovery" in terms of shipments and is poised to meet rising demand expected in 2022.
That's the assessment of the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA), the Brussels-based trade group that represents 14 international tire makers with manufacturing assets in Europe.
Apart from the farm tires segment, which fell 2.5%, replacement market shipments fared well last year, the ETRMA's figures show, with shipments of consumer and truck/bus tires rising 14.1% and 12% over 2020, respectively, to 219.5 million and 13.5 million units.
In both cases, 2021 shipments exceed the 2019 shipment levels, lending more credence to the industry's recovery from the COVID-19-induced slump of 2020.
"Manufacturers are facing multiple opportunities as the sector is rapidly transforming in response to new developments in vehicle technology, mobility, and regulatory policies," ETRMA Secretary General Fazilet Cinaralp said.
"Our sector has been resilient through the pandemic, and we look forward for this positive trend to be confirmed and the growth to consolidate in 2022, back to 2019 volumes," she added.
The one glaring outlier in the statistics is the OE consumer tire sector, where shipments fell 7.8% to 61.8 million units, reflecting a down year in vehicle production tied to various component shortages. Shipments last year were 25.3 million units shy of 2019, ETRMA figures show.
By contrast, shipments of OE truck tires jumped 24.9% over 2020, the figures show, to 5.83 million units. That level eclipses the 2019 figure by over 2%.
Within the replacement consumer tire segment, the ERTMA data show demand for all-season tires was up 34.5% to 28.2 million units, or nearly 13% of overall shipments. Shipments of both summer and winter tires rose 9%.
Shipments of replacement two-wheel tires grew 14.4% over 2020 with just under 9.7 million units sold. That growth puts the segment ahead of 2019 by roughly 5%.
Sales of replacement agricultural tires, however, dropped 2.5% during the year to 1.16 million units.
The ETRMA's data refer to markets in 35 European countries, stretching from Ireland in the West to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Baltics in the East plus Malta and Turkey.
Within the ERTMA's territory, Germany is the single largest market for consumer tires, accounting for about 20% of shipments, followed by France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. On the truck/bus tire side, Turkey is the largest market followed by Germany, Italy, France and the U.K.
The ETRMA's membership includes 15 tire manufacturers operating 94 manufacturing facilities (including retread plants) throughout Europe, employing over 200,000 workers and representing 300 million units of passenger and 18 million units of truck/bus tire capacity.