WASHINGTON—U.S. tire shipments could fall to their lowest level in decades. The new data, released by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, reflects how deeply the coronavirus pandemic has impacted production and demand.
The association said shipments this year could fall to 273.6 million, an 18 percent drop compared to the 332.7 million total units in 2019. The original equipment sector is expected to take the bigger hit—down 24 percent. Replacement truck tire shipments should fair the best, down 7.3 percent from 2019.
The USTMA said it decided to issue this update now to "better reflect the impact of the pandemic on the tire manufacturing sector." Normally, the trade group publishes shipment data three time annually—in February, July and at year-end.
By individual category, the USTMA expects:
- Replacement passenger tires to be down 17 percent to 184.4 million units from 222.6 million;
- Replacement light truck tires to be down 16 percent to 27.3 million units, from 32.5 million;
- Replacement medium truck tires to slip 7 percent to 17.6 million units, from 18.9 million;
- OE passenger tires to drop 24 percent to 35 million units, from 46.3 million;
- OE light truck tires to fall 18 percent to 4.8 million units, from 5.9 million; and
- OE medium truck tires to plummet nearly 31 percent to 4.5 million units, from 6.5 million.
The USTMA did not elaborate on the factors it took into account in calculating its projections.
In early March, prior to the recognition that the coronavirus would cause economic havoc, the USTMA said it expected U.S. tire shipments would increase slightly over 2019 to 333.2 million units, led by strong aftermarket demand for truck tires.