WASHINGTON—U.S. tire shipments are projected to remain unchanged this year from 2011 at 284 million units, but an increase in vehicle miles traveled and anticipated economic growth should generate a 2-percent boost in 2013, the Rubber Manufacturers Association reported.
In a revised report, the RMA said it expects replacement tire shipments to drop to 234 million units in 2012, a decrease of nearly 6 million units (2.5 percent) from 2011 figures. However, the drop should be offset completely by a projected 13-percent increase in original equipment tire shipments for both the light vehicle and commercial truck sectors.
The RMA previously forecasted overall shipments for the year to rise about 1.2 percent to 288 million units.
Looking forward, the RMA is forecasting OE growth of nearly 4 percent for 2013, as new vehicle demand is expected to increase passenger and light truck vehicle sales to more than 15 million. In addition, the association is predicting 2013 replacement tire shipments—led primarily by an increase in passenger tire demand—will grow by 3 million units, bringing total anticipated tire shipments for the year to approximately 290 million units.
In 2012, OE passenger tire shipments are anticipated to increase 15 percent to 41 million units, an improvement of more than 5 million. The RMA said shipments for 2013 should increase more than 4 percent, or 1.7 million units.
OE light truck tires are projected to increase 2 percent this year to 4.3 million units, as domestic vehicle production using light truck tires experienced only slight growth due to soft economic conditions, the RMA reported. The category is expected to grow an additional 2.8 percent to nearly 4.4 million units in 2013.
Finally, increased demand for commercial trucks and trailers is expected to boost commercial OE tire shipments by more than 5 percent this year, reaching about 5.2 million units. A sluggish forecast for the 2013 Industrial Production Index likely will limit growth next year for commercial tires to about 2 percent.
On the replacement side, 2012 passenger tire shipments will decrease by more than 4 million units, or nearly 2 percent, to 190 million units as anticipated demand failed to materialize due to continued soft economic conditions, the RMA said. However, the market segment is expected to increase by 3 million units in 2013.
Replacement light truck tire shipments should finish out 2012 at about 28 million units—a decrease of about 600,000—and little or no growth is forecast in 2013.
Replacement commercial tire shipments will decline by about 5 percent to 15.7 million units in 2012 as fleets opt for new equipment, but 2013 shipments are expected to increase nearly 4 percent, or about 600,000 units, the RMA predicted.