WASHINGTON (Aug. 10, 2009)—U.S. tire shipments are expected to plunge 16 percent this year, or more than twice the decline forecast by the Rubber Manufacturers Association just four months ago.
The drop—to about 237 million units from 283 million—will be the second consecutive annual decline. Shipments last year fell nearly 9 percent from 2007, including a drop of 10.2 million replacement passenger tires to 193.8 million units.
The RMA sees shipments falling in all six major reporting categories, although car and truck OE shipments will plunge more than 40 percent each.
Shipments should recover, though, in 2010 to about 260 million units—a gain of nearly 8 percent—as domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors appear to have bottomed and are poised for a rebound, the RMA said.
Replacement passenger tire shipments will fare marginally better than the total, falling 9 percent—or 18 million units—to 176 million units, before rebounding next year to roughly 181 million units as the consumer sector economy starts to recover, the RMA said.
Replacement light and medium truck tire shipments, on the other hand, will dip 18 and 20 percent, respectively, from the 2008 levels to 24 million and 12 million units. Both sectors are expected to recover slightly in 2010, the RMA said, to 26 million and 13 million units.
Projected overall shipments of 237 million this year will be a drop of about 45 million units from 2008 and 84 million units from the peak of 321 million units in 2000. The reduced shipments reflect the recent struggles of automotive manufacturers, low consumer confidence, high unemployment and depressed home values, the RMA said.
OE passenger tire shipments are headed for a drop of 46 percent to 21 million units, the RMA said, based on car maker production shut downs and bankruptcy reorganizations. Shipments could rebound in 2010, however, by as much as 11 million units based on anticipated pent-up demand.
OE light truck tire shipments are seen falling about 12 percent this year to 2.6 million units, based on slower economic conditions and their impact on the commercial sectors that use light truck vehicles along with the continuing switch to P-metric tires in some vehicle platforms. A slight recovery of about 4 percent is anticipated next year.
OE medium and heavy-duty truck tire shipments could drop as much as 44 percent—or 1.6 million units—this year given the current economic climate, the RMA said. Shipments could rebound by about 500,000 units next year in light of pent-up demand for heavy-duty vehicles.