WASHINGTON (March 24, 2011)—U.S. tire shipments should increase 3 percent, or about 8 million units, this year to 293 million units, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, with OE demand growth overshadowing a slowing replacement market.
The replacement passenger tire market, the largest single category, will see growth of less than 2 percent this year after rebounding last year by nearly 6 percent. Shipments should hit about 203.5 million units as growth is tempered by higher energy costs, a decrease in non-essential driving and continued economic uncertainties.
Replacement light truck tire demand will plateau this year at roughly 28.7 million units, after growing 4.4 percent last year, the RMA said.
Demand for replacement medium/wide-base/heavy commercial truck tires should show solid growth of about 5 percent, or 800,000 units, after double-digit growth last year.
OE passenger tire shipments should increase nearly 12 percent—or about 4 million units—to 36.9 million units as domestic vehicle production continues to increase in response to higher vehicle sales owing to incentive programs, greater credit availability and low interest rates, according to the RMA.
Shipments of OE light truck tires will show no growth in 2011 after surging 29.6 percent last year to 3.6 million units. Demand for OE commercial truck tires should jump about 30 percent this year, or nearly 1 million units, the RMA said, as the commercial sector continues to strengthen and reflect economic growth forecasts.