CLEVELAND (Sept. 18, 2012)—The U.S. tire industry had its best year ever in 2007, and it isn't likely to match that anytime soon, according to a speaker at the International Tire Exhibition and Conference today.
“Prices are going up, but in terms of real growth, tire shipments don't match what they were five years ago,” said Dennis Byrne, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Akron.
The economic downturn and competition from imports, particularly from China, has contributed to the soft market for U.S. tire makers, according to Byrne. U.S. tire and auto production have had strong percentage increases in the last couple of years, but those percentages are in comparison to the low levels of 2008 and 2009, he said.
The three years of high tariffs on Chinese tires, ending this month, only served to distort the market, according to Byrne.
“They knocked down the number of tires the U.S. bought from China, but it didn't affect the number of tires imported into the U.S.,” he said.