BRUSSELS—Demand for tires throughout Europe fell by double digits in nearly all product categories in the first three months of 2020, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business, the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association reported.
In its latest quarterly analysis, the ETRMA said member companies' sales across all categories "dropped drastically" as COVID forced strict lockdown measures across Europe.
The largest sector, replacement consumer (passenger and light truck) tires, was off 12.8 percent for the quarter to 48 million units; shipments were off 26.4 percent in March alone, the ETRMA data show.
The truck tire aftermarket fared the best among the categories tracked, with shipments falling "just" 5.6 percent to 2.83 million units; the drop in March was 15.1 percent.
In addition, shipments of agricultural tires fell 12.8 percent in the quarter to 312,000 units and demand for two-wheel tires dropped 21 percent to 3.5 million units.
The declines clearly were linked to government measures taken to protect the public and workers from COVID, including temporary closures of European tire plants, the ETRMA said.
As of April 7, the trade group estimated that, in Europe, 89 percent of manufacturing capacity is closed, 84 percent of the workforce is affected and 10 percent of research and development staff is unable to continue their activities.
The Brussels-based association added that it remains unclear when the European tire industry will be able to resume its production activities and the international supply chain will function properly again.