WASHINGTON—U.S. tire shipments should rebound from an 8-percent decline in 2009 and rise about 3 percent to 267 million units this year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
The forecast is 7 million units higher than the trade association's prediction last November. The RMA also said fourth-quarter 2009 deliveries were better than expected.
The increase in tire shipments this year reflects the onset of the economic rebound, an increase in vehicle miles traveled and a slight rise in auto sales, the RMA said. As a result, the association expects the rebound to extend into 2011 and push up shipments 3.7 percent to 275 million units.
The projected increase in shipments primarily will come from the original equipment sector. The RMA predicts demand for OE passenger tires will rebound about 21 percent to more than 5 million units, while truck tire deliveries will reach 30 million units, after declining nearly 35 percent in 2009.
OE light truck tire demand should rise about 10 percent to more than 3 million units, while truck makers' demand for OE medium- and heavy-duty truck tires should increase nearly 8 percent, or about 180,000 units.
The outlook for the aftermarket isn't quite as bullish.
Replacement passenger tire shipments are expected to rise only about 1 percent to 191.2 million units, after declining 2.2 percent in 2009, the RMA said.
Demand for replacement light truck tires could drop nearly 1 percent to about 27.3 million units. Shipments last year fell 6.5 percent as soft economic conditions impacted small commercial vehicles, the RMA said.
The market for replacement truck tires should rebound this year, the association said, by about 4.7 percent to 13.5 million units as the economy picks up and more goods are shipped.