WASHINGTON (Dec. 1, 2008) — U.S. tire shipments will drop 6 percent for 2008 compared with last year, the lowest total since 1997, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
Next year will be more of the same, the trade association said, because it doesn't expect an economic rebound to occur until the second half of the year.
For 2008, shipments should total about 290 million units, 20 million fewer than in 2007. The RMA said that total could fall by another 3 million units in 2009.
The drop in shipments reflects the sharp downward revisions in the domestic economic conditions predicted for both the consumer and commercial sectors, the RMA said.
The largest drop percentage-wise will be original equipment light truck tires, where the RMA expects shipments to be 34 percent below the 2007 total at about 2.9 million units. The association cites for the sharp drop consumer demand for vehicles with higher fuel economy, a shift in vehicle fitments to P-metric passenger tires and market share increases by import vehicle manufacturers.
The RMA anticipates a further decrease of 100,000 units in 2009 resulting from the slow economic recovery and its impact on the commercial sectors that utilize light trucks.
OE passenger tire shipments should fall more than 14 percent to about 39 million units, reflecting the continued decreases in domestic vehicle production, with a further 3-pecent decline anticipated next year. Shipments of medium/wide-base/heavy truck tires to vehicle makers end the year about 16 percent below the 2007 total at nearly 3.9 million units, and will tumble another 8 percent, or 300,000 units, next year.
Aftermarket passenger tire delivers will slip 2.7 percent to 198 million units this year, with no growth expected next year, the RMA said.