WASHINGTON — The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) has raised its 2019 U.S. tire shipment forecast slightly, to 333.1 million units, buoyed by a stronger forecast for replacement passenger and light truck tire demand.
The new overall shipment forecast represents a 0.8% increase over 2018 shipments, up from the 0.6% gain projected in August.
Replacement passenger tire shipments are projected to increase by 6.4 million units, or 2.9%, over 2018, the USTMA said without providing any commentary on its reasons for raising the forecast. The new forecast represents an additional 600,000 units in demand versus the August pronouncement.
Replacement light truck tire shipments are expected to rise 1.6% to 32.2 million units, up 200,000 units versus the August forecast.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which tracks miles driven by U.S. vehicle owners, shows that this figure continues to rise steadily, hitting an annualized rate of 3.25 trillion miles in September.
By contrast, the USTMA has downgraded the industry's expectations for replacement truck/bus tire shipments by 200,000 units, to 19.2 million units or an 11.7% drop from 2018.
The 2019 shipment estimates are being compared with 2018 data that was inflated toward year-end by extraordinary numbers of truck tires that were imported from China ahead of the imposition of elevated import duties in early 2019.
On the original equipment side of the ledger, the USTMA lowered its expectations for all categories:
• OE passenger tires — down 4.5% to 45 million units (200,000 fewer units);
• OE light truck tires — up 4.8% to 5.9 million units (100,000 fewer units);
• OE medium truck/bus tires — up 2.7% to 6.6 million units (100,000 fewer units);
The USTMA represents a dozen tire companies with manufacturing in the U.S. These companies operate 56 tire-related plants in 17 states and generate over $27 billion in annual sales.