WASHINGTON (Jan. 27)—Tire shipments in the U.S. last year grew about 2.5 percent on economic growth in both the consumer and commercial sectors, the Rubber Manufacturers Association said.
The RMA cited increases in the nation's gross domestic product and the industrial production index in its preliminary estimates.
Combined original equipment and replacement tire shipments for 2004 light vehicle and commercial truck categories are expected to increase by 7.7 million units to 318 million units, up from 2003's 310.3 million total shipments.
In the replacement market, passenger tire shipments increased 3 percent to about 199.4 million units, and light truck tire shipments rose 5.6 percent to 36.4 million units. Shipments of medium- and wide-base truck tires grew about 4.1 percent, or 600,000 units, to 16.1 million units.
OE passenger tire shipments fell about 2.8 percent last year, reflecting decreased auto production and passenger cars accounting for less of the total percentage of light vehicle sales. OE light truck tires also fell by nearly 600,000 units, or 7.5 percent, to about 7.4 million units in 2004.
Shipments of OE medium- and wide-base truck tires jumped 38 percent to 5.7 million units on strong sales of commercial truck vehicles.