WASHINGTON (March 8, 2012)—The Rubber Manufacturers Association has revised downward its growth forecast for U.S. replacement truck tires this year to roughly 2 percent based on “moderate” growth expectations for the national economy.
In its latest market analysis, the RMA forecasts growth for replacement truck tires of about 400,000 units this year, down from 800,000 in the association's early December 2011 analysis. The RMA also revised downward the final 2011 shipment figure by nearly 3 percent to 16.5 million, leaving the 2012 projection at just shy of 17 million tires.
Overall, the RMA expects the U.S. market to absorb 290 million passenger, light truck and medium/heavy truck tires, which is unchanged from the December 2011 forecast but which represents growth of about 2 percent over a lowered 2011 shipments total of 284 million units.
The RMA sees growth coming primarily in the OE passenger and medium/heavy truck tire sectors.
Shipments of OE passenger tires are expected to rise about 8 percent to 38.6 million units as domestic vehicle production is expected to increase. OE shipments in 2011 jumped nearly 8 percent over 2010 to 35.7 million units, the RMA said, as vehicle inventory and availability issues cropped up as a result of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami March 11, 2011.
Medium OE truck tire shipments should grow about 12 percent in 2012, or another nearly 600,000 units to about 5.6 million units, as the commercial sector continues to strengthen, reflecting economic growth forecasts. Truck tire shipments to vehicle makers shot up 55 percent last year to nearly 5 million units, the RMA said, reflecting pent-up demand for commercial trucks and trailers.
Shipments of OE light truck tires are expected to be flat with 2011 after jumping 15.7 percent last year to 4.2 million units on improved economic conditions.
Demand for replacement passenger tires should yield 1-percent growth in shipments, the RMA said, to about 196.4 million units as the economy is expected to continue rebounding slowly in 2012 commensurate with a small increase in miles driven.
Imports from non-RMA member companies fell nearly 9 percent in 2011, the RMA said, but they should rebound this year by approximately 7 percent.
The RMA sees little or no growth in replacement light truck shipments—which slipped slightly last year from 2010 to 28.6 million units—as miles driven by small commercial vehicle owners will remain relatively constant.