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U.S. tire output down 15% in '09

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WASHINGTON (May 21, 2010)—U.S. tire production fell 14.6 percent last year to 148.3 million units, its lowest level since the 1960s, according to new data on 2009 from the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

The production decline was the most severe in truck and bus tires, where output fell 29.2 percent to 9.12 million units. Passenger tire production fell 14 percent to 118.6 million units and light truck tire production was off 10.4 percent to 21.1 million units.

The drop in production, the ninth straight year of reduced output, was mirrored by a 15.8-percent drop in imports last year to 124.9 million units, the RMA data show. Exports also dropped, by 10.6 percent to 28.5 million units.

As reported earlier, overall tire shipments in the U.S. fell 8 percent in 2009 to 259.7 million units.

The RMA earlier projected U.S. shipments should rise this year by about 3 percent to 267 million units and an additional 3.7 percent next year to 275 million.