WASHINGTON-U.S. tire shipments should rise this year by about 1.2 percent over 2005, to 324.5 million units, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association´s latest forecast.
Increases in the aftermarket are expected to offset declines in original equipment shipments.
The forecast differs somewhat from one issued in December by the RMA, before all the data had been collected. Shipments for 2005 actually were 320.8 million units, rather than the reported 325 million, an RMA official said. The association previously predicted a 2.2-percent rise in U.S. shipments this year.
The rising number of tire shipments for 2006 continues to reflect steady economic growth in the consumer and commercial sectors, the RMA said. The group projects annualized growth of approximately 1.7 percent for total tire shipments through 2011, to 352 million units, reflecting increases in the nation´s Gross Domestic Product and Industrial Production Index.
The RMA´s Tire Market Analysis Committee´s latest forecast for 2006-2011:
—OE passenger tires. This market is projected to drop by more than 2 percent to about 52 million units in 2006 as domestic light vehicle sales and production fall. Annualized growth of approximately 1 percent is expected through 2011, as shipments return to the 55 million unit level, sparked by increases in light vehicle sales and production and growth in demand for cross-over utility vehicles, fitted with OE passenger tires.
—OE light truck tires. Demand of about 6 million units is projected for 2006 and should stay around that level through 2011 as consumers opt for smaller-sized sport utility and light truck vehicles, which are fitted with P-metric passenger tires.
—OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires. Sales of commercial truck vehicles will experience modest growth in 2006 because of continued vehicle replacement demand and response to future changes in EPA emission regulations. Total OE shipments for 2006 should be 6.5 million units.
In 2007, shipments are expected to slump 15 percent, and growth will be erratic after that in response to the emission regulations taking effect in 2010.
—Replacement passenger tires. Shipments in this category should grow 4.2 million units, a gain of 2 percent. The increase will be fueled by P-metric tires for SUVs, projected to grow more than 10 percent, and the high- and ultra-high-performance tire markets, expected to increase 5 and 11 percent, respectively. An average annual increase in demand should be about 2 percent through 2011, to 227 million units.
-Replacement light truck tires. About 2 percent annualized growth through 2011 is anticipated for this market, to about 40 million units. In 2006, shipments should rise by about 200,000 units, to 36.2 million units.
—Replacement medium/wide-base/ heavy on-highway commercial truck tires. Continued growth in industrial production is expected to take this market to 17.8 million units in 2006. Through 2011, annualized growth of 1 percent would result in shipments of more than 18 million units.