BRUSSELS—The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic turmoil it caused took a huge bite out of the European tire market last year, according to figures released this week by the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association.
With the exception of the replacement truck tire segment, the major market sectors tracked by the ETRMA suffered double-digit drops in shipments:
- OE car tires—down 23.1 percent to just shy of 67 million units;
- OE truck tires—down 18.3 percent to 4.66 million units;
- Replacement car tires—down 12.1 percent to 192.3 million units; and
- Replacement truck tires—down 3.9 percent 12.1 million units.
"The COVID-19 pandemic, the repeated lockdowns and mobility restrictions consequently imposed, together with the economic crisis that followed, with the closure of some plants, have strongly impacted the tire sector, not only in terms of sales but also in terms of jobs lost," Fazilet Cinaralp, secretary general of the ETRMA said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, the huge drop in the OE consumer tires is not a surprise and is a direct consequence of the 23.7 percent contraction announced for 2020 by the EU passenger car industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
Within the consumer tire sector, the ETRMA data shows demand for all-season tires actually grew last year (up 5.5 percent), but that growth was offset by double-digit drops in shipments of summer (down 12.8 percent) and winter (down 20 percent).
The industry started to see a slow restart of economic activity in the fourth quarter, Cinaralp said, driven by the agricultural, moto/scooter and truck tire sectors.
The consumer market remains negative, she added, exacerbated by a relatively mild winter during semi/lockdown periods that led many drivers to not replace their summer tires with winter ones.
Shipments of replacement market agricultural tires were on par with 2019 at 1.16 million units, while shipments of replaced two-wheeler tires fell 8.3 percent to 8.47 million units.
The ETRMA is calling for European Union institutions and national governments to develop programs to facilitate a recovery, in order to support the economy and the society to exit from this "unprecedented" crisis.
The ETRMA has 14 tire-manufacturing companies among its members, companies whose corporate sales represent 70 percent of total global sales. The ETRMA's data refers to markets in 35 European countries, stretching from Ireland in the West to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Baltics in the East plus Malta and Turkey.