WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 3, 2011)—The Rubber Manufacturers Association is revising upward its 2011 U.S. tire shipment forecast, although expected growth in the single largest segment, replacement passenger tires, is being revised downward.
The RMA's new forecast, a 4-percent increase in demand to 296 million units, is based largely on double-digit growth expectations in the original equipment light and medium/heavy truck tire and replacement truck tire segments. The association's previous forecast, issued in March, called for a 3-percent rise in shipments.
The RMA cited continued high energy costs, drops in non-essential driving and continued economic uncertainties for its decision to cut the growth forecast for replacement passenger tires to less than 1 percent to 202 million units.
By contrast, the RMA is boosting its forecast for the replacement light truck tire segment by more than 2 percentage points to 7 percent, or more than 2 million units, to about 31 million units. The RMA is basing its forecast on the economic recovery in the commercial sector; tires in this category primarily fit “class 3” trucks.
The RMA is even more bullish when it comes to the replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire segment, where shipments are seen rising 12.5 percent to nearly 18 million units. The association cited the predicted 4-percent increase in the Industrial Production Index for its optimism.
OE tire shipments for both the light vehicle and commercial truck markets will account for nearly half of the total forecasted gain of 11 million units, the RMA said.
OE light and medium truck tire shipments should rise nearly 18 and 47 percent, respectively, the association said, to 4.3 million and 4.7 million units.
Light truck OE demand is being driven by pent-up demand, buyer incentive programs and improved economic conditions in commercial sectors that use light truck vehicles.
Increased medium truck tire shipments to OE accounts reflect pent-up demand for commercial trucks and trailers concurrent with the rise in industrial production, the RMA said.
OE passenger tire shipments are expected to rise 8.5 percent to about 36 million units, down marginally from the earlier forecast. The revision is based in part on reduced North American vehicle production in the wake of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and its impact on component companies there supplying American plants.