WASHINGTON—The U.S. tire manufacturing industry lost ground to imports last year for the second straight year as shipments of both OE and replacement market consumer tires increased.
This is one trend culled from the pages of the Rubber Manufacturers Association's preliminary "Factbook 2014," released today.
Production of passenger and light truck tires in the U.S. fell 3.4 and 7.6 percent, respectively, last year to 119 million and 23.5 million units, while imports into the U.S. of those same tires jumped 12.8 and 18.8 percent to 141.9 million and 24.9 million units, according to the RMA.
Domestic production of truck and bus tires, on the other hand, was up 4.6 percent to 13.8 million units, while imports slipped 3.5 percent to 10.2 million units.
Aftermarket shipments of passenger and light truck tires rose 4.3 percent to 199.1 million units and 1.1 percent to 28.4 million units, respectively, while those of medium truck/bus tires slipped 1.1 percent to 15.7 million units.
The pattern repeated itself with OE shipments, the RMA figures show:
• passenger tire deliveries to vehicle makers up 8.9 percent to 43.6 million units;
• light truck tire shipments up 3.8 percent to 4.4 million units; and
• truck/bus tire shipments down 5.2 percent to 4.8 million units.
At the same time, exports were up for passenger and truck/bus tires, but down for light truck tires, the RMA data show.
Other nuggets of information gleaned from the RMA publications include:
• Demand for speed-rated tires continued to increase, both in the replacement and OE and segments, up 8.3 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively. Speed-rated tires, H and higher, now account for almost one-third (32 percent) of replacement market car tire shipments, the data show, and nearly half (48.9 percent) of all OE shipments.
• Shipments of "winter" tires — those with winter, all-terrain or traction treads—fell 15 percent to 6.2 million units, or 3.1 percent of all aftermarket passenger tire shipments. At the same time, shipments of all-season tires also fell, 0.8 percent, perhaps reflecting the surging interest in performance tires with more conventional "summer" treads.
• Manufacturers' flag brands staged a resurgence last year, taking share away from both private and associate brands. In passenger tires, manufacturers' brand accounted for 84 percent of replacement shipments, up from 81 percent in 2012. In light truck tires, the gain was to 84 percent from 80 percent.
• Six of the top 10 most popular replacement tires last year were 16-inch rim diameters, along with one 17- and three 15-inch sizes. The most popular for the second straight year—at 3.3 percent of shipments—was 205/55R16, the RMA stats show.The 10 most popular sizes represented 22.5 percent of all aftermarket shipments, unchanged from 2012.
The Factbook 2014 is available to RMA members for $250 and $300 for non-members.