WASHINGTON — Total U.S. tire shipments grew 6.7 percent in April, bringing shipments just shy of the break-even point on the year.
Shipments in April totaled 27.8 million tires, compared with just over 26 million a year earlier, according to data from the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Through four months, shipments are down 0.1 percent to 109.3 million units.
During April, gains came in both passenger and light truck tire segments-primarily on the replacement side-while truck/bus tire shipments dropped sharply.
Passenger tire shipments rose 9.3 percent on the month and are up 1.7 percent thus far in 2007. The replacement market climbed 13.5 percent in April and 5.7 percent over four months. Original equipment shipments, however, inched up just 0.4 percent for the month and dropped 7.1 percent for the year.
The U.S. light truck tire market gained 4.9 percent on the month but was off 3.9 percent through four months of the year. Replacements increased 5.9 percent in April but lost 1.7 percent on the year, with OE off 8.6 and 16.8 percent for the month and year, respectively.
Truck/bus tire shipments fell by 16.1 percent during April and are off 12.3 percent year to date, with declines on both the replacement and OE sides.
Reflecting plant closing and other production cutbacks in the U.S., tire production declined by 11.6 percent to just more than 66 million units for the first four months of the year, the RMA reported. Conversely, imports grew by 8.1 percent to 49.5 million.