NASSAU, Bahamas (April 14, 2010)—Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. expects the U.S. tire market to return to 2008 levels this year, based on shipment increases in the first quarter over 2009, according to executives speaking at the firm's Conti Gold dealer meeting in Nassau.
Preliminary numbers for March show the market actually exceeded March 2008 numbers, according to CTA Vice President Bill Caldwell.
Getting enough tires to fill dealers' demands, though, could be challenging because most tire makers reduced production last year and trimmed inventories, Caldwell said.
The U.S. industry's inventory levels fell to about 30 million units toward year-end, he said, citing industry data. Inventories traditionally fall in the range of 40 million to 50 million tires, he added.
As the signs of recovery started in the fourth quarter, makers—including CTA—started ramping up production again, Caldwell said, noting that the company has resumed some capital investments it had suspended in the midst of last year's downturn.
Dealers attending the Gold dealer meeting confirmed fill rates on key products have been a concern and welcomed CTA's efforts to rectify the situation.