WASHINGTON—U.S. demand for replacement car and light truck tires this year essentially will be unchanged from 2014, the Rubber Manufacturers Association said in its latest U.S. shipments forecast.
Replacement passenger tire shipments are expected to be up 0.1 percent this year to 206.8 million units, while aftermarket light truck tire shipments will be off 0.2 percent to 28.6 million units, the RMA said.
While these numbers at first glance don't appear particularly optimistic, they do represent improvements over the shipments the trade group forecast in April.
At that time, the RMA projected passenger and light truck replacement tire shipments would drop slightly from the 2014 totals to 205.3 million and 28.5 million units, respectively.
Replacement demand for medium truck tires is projected to grow 3.8 percent over the 2014 total to 18.1 million units. This also is an improvement over the earlier forecast of 17.8 million units.
On the original equipment side of the ledger, the RMA is forecasting measurable gains in passenger and medium/heavy-duty truck tire shipments, but light truck original equipment demand is seen as lower.
OE passenger tire shipments should rise 4 percent to 49.7 million units, the RMA said, with truck tire shipments jumping 10.5 percent to 6.3 million units. Both forecasts are improvements over the April projections.
Light truck tire shipments to vehicle makers, by contrast, are seen falling 2.4 percent to 4.5 million—a stark contrast to April when the RMA expected these shipments to rise slightly.
Total U.S. tire shipments are projected to reach 314 million units this year, a 1.1 percent increase.
The Washington-based trade group did not elaborate on its reasons for adjusting its forecast nor comment on U.S. production.