WASHINGTON—The seemingly endless upward trajectory of tire imports into the U.S. has ended—quite abruptly—in the first quarter of 2023 after plateauing in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Imports of passenger and light truck tires fell by double digits—down 10.8 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively—in the quarter versus the first three months of 2022, while imports of truck/bus tires were off 5.2 percent.
The declines are the first quarter-to-quarter drop-offs since mid-2020 and reflect falling aftermarket demand throughout the U.S. Nearly all of the major tire makers reported lower unit sales volumes in North America in the first quarter, according to their respective earnings reports.
The drop-off also should be seen against a particularly robust first quarter in 2022, when the industry was seeking to restock depleted reserves.
At the same time, the data—culled from the U.S. Census Bureau—show that Cambodia has emerged as a significant country of origin—for tires being sold in the U.S.
Car and light truck tire imports from that Southeast Asian nation—where Chinese producers Sailun Group and Jiangsu General Science Technology Co. Ltd. (JGST) have factories up and running—increased 50- and 40-fold, respectively, in the first quarter of 2023, the Census Bureau figures show.