WASHINGTON — Demand for tires in the U.S., especially truck tires, has accelerated over the past few months at a pace that could lead to record annual shipments, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA).
The industry trade association is forecasting double-digit growth in demand for medium/heavy truck tires at both the replacement and original equipment markets, growth that would support overall shipment increases of 10.9%, to 336.1 million units.
The projection represents an increase of 6.4%, or 20.5 million units, over the forecast issued in March, as well as 11.2% ahead of 2020's shipments.
In issuing this forecast, the USTMA took into account a number of factors, including:
- Strong shipments during the first half of 2021;
- Improved outlook for vehicle miles traveled;
- Higher OE sales in previous years impacting replacement cycles;
- Reduced short-term OE sales plus the increased average vehicle age impacting replacements; and
- Increased online shopping and last-mile delivery.
The trade group did not comment on the potential impact on supply of the elevated import duties imposed earlier this year on imported car and light truck tires from South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, which represented over a third of U.S. aftermarket shipments last year.
By category, the shipment forecast breaks down as:
- Passenger — up 10.1% (10.6 million units) to 224.4 million units.
- Light truck — up 13.2% (4.3 million units) to 37.3 million units.
- Truck/bus — up 14.6% (2.8 million units) to 21.9 million units.
Original equipment market:
- Passenger — up 9.9% (3.7 million units) to 40.9 million units.
- Light truck — up 6.2% (300,000 units) to 5.7 million units.
- Truck/bus — up 25.3% (1.2 million units) to 5.9 million units.
The trade group's forecast represents a 6.5% improvement overall versus the annual projection the USTMA issued in March, led by marked increases in the shipment projections for the replacement market. In particular, the forecast for truck/bus tires is up nearly 12% over that published in March.
The USTMA bases its forecasts on input from its 13 tire manufacturer member companies.