PARIS—After a steep drop early in 2020, global demand for tires is growing as the impacts from COVID-19 ease, according to Michelin. Some markets—North America among them—actually are showing volume increases over 2019.
Group sales fell 5 percent in the quarter, to $6.46 billion—versus the 31 percent decline in the second quarter—helping to "improve" the nine-month sales to $16.7 billion, which represents a drop of 16.8 percent versus the 2019 period.
Sales of passenger car and light truck tires fell 16.2 percent over the first nine months to $8.09 billion, with the volume decrease slowing to around 6 percent during the quarter ended Sept. 30, Michelin said, "demonstrating a robust quarter-on-quarter upturn."
Sales volume for the segment was off 17 percent for the year-to-date.
In North America, replacement market volume of passenger and light truck tires was up 7 percent in the third quarter versus the same period a year ago, driven in part by advanced purchases ahead of the possible introduction of new duties on imports on tires from South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and/or Vietnam.
The overall market increase resulted in a 4 percent gain in sales volume for Michelin in the quarter, the only geographic area to report a rebound. For the nine-month period, volume was down 13 percent, Michelin reported.
Another sign of economic recovery was strong freight demand, which led to replacement market truck/bus tire sales edging up 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in Europe and North America during the quarter, Michelin said. OE sales in this sector were up 11 percent globally, a situation Michelin said was skewed by 58 percent growth in China.
For Michelin, the situation in the truck tire markets was similar, with volumes falling 6 percent in the quarter and 20 percent during the nine-month period, with January-September sales coming in at $4.5 billion.
In the specialty tire businesses, which include two-wheeler, mining, farming and aircraft tires, Michelin noted a recovery in agricultural tire sales and a rebound in the two-wheel segment.
Sales in this segment were off 14.6 percent to $4.4 billion for the nine-month period.
The improvements, it said, helped offset a slowdown in the mining business, "which felt the effects of the [COVID-19] health crisis with a lag of a few months."
Michelin also noted a 1.7 percent currency impact on sales, which it said was offset by improvements in price-mix and share gains in the 18-inch and larger tire market.
The French group did not disclose details of its earnings development.