BRUSSELS — The European tire industry suffered precipitous drops in replacement market shipments in the quarter ended June 30, prompting the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA) to issue a "bleak" outlook for the full year with double-digit drops in shipments expected.
The ETRMA said the second-quarter results — replacement consumer and commercial tire shipments down 31.3% and 23.3% respectively versus 2019 — are the worst quarterly results the Brussels-based trade group has ever reported.
"The tire sector's full recovery is still far away. For the moment, we can only hope for the market to stabilize in the second half of the year," ETRMA Secretary General Fazilet Cinaralp said, citing the deep impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Europe's economy.
Shipments of all tire types have fallen in both the second quarter and the first half of the year, with only agricultural tires not suffering double-digit declines.
The sales decline began in the first quarter, the ERTMA said, when the pandemic began to cause lockdowns across Europe. As expected, the full effect became all the more evident in the second quarter.
Replacement passenger tire sales in the quarter fell 31.3% to 35 million units, the ETRMA said, pushing first-half shipments down 21.7% to 83 million tires.
Replacement market shipments of truck and bus tires fell 23.3% to 2.27 million units in the quarter and 14.4% to 5.1 million units for the first six months.
Agricultural tires performed relatively stronger, with shipments falling "just" 3.6% in the second quarter to 295,000 units and 8.7% in the first half to 606,000 units.
Sales of two-wheel tires fell 26.2% to 1.99 million units in the quarter and 23.3% in the first half to 4.76 million units.
According to the association, European manufacturers were shut for an average of 33 days due to the pandemic and resumed production in May after lockdowns were eased.
"As a result, there was a slight upward trend in tire replacement sales visible towards the end of the quarter," the ETRMA added.
Despite the optimistic trend towards the end of the period, the association warned that a recovery in the sector was not "just dependent on Europe's situation" due to the global nature of the industry.
The ETRMA has 14 tire-manufacturing companies among its members, companies whose corporate sales represent 70% of total global sales. 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.