WASHINGTON—The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association has revised upward for a second time in four months its shipment forecast for 2020, reflecting "industry resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges" posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with the latest revision, projected 2020 U.S. tire shipments of 298.3 million units will fall 10.3 percent short of the 2019 total of 332.7 million, the USTMA said. The latest forecast represents an improvement of nearly 19 million units from the July forecast.
The trade association, which represents 13 U.S.-based tire makers, did not elaborate on what factors it took into account in formulating its latest forecast, nor did it comment on the market in 2021 or beyond.
The USTMA is forecasting improvements in all the categories it reports, with the biggest change affecting light truck tire shipments, which it sees up 11.5 percent from the July forecast.
With the improvement, replacement LT tire shipments of 32 million units will finish the year 1.8 percent short of the 2019 total.
Replacement passenger tire shipments are projected to total 201.5 million units — up nearly 7 percent over the July forecast but still 9.5 percent shy of the 2019 total.
Medium/heavy truck tire replacement shipment units are seen ending the year at 18.5 million units, up 2.8 percent from the July forecast and just 2.1 percent below 2019.
On the OE side of the ledger, the USTMA posted slight improvements in its forecast for light and medium truck tire shipments and 5.4 percent better passenger tire shipments.
Despite the increased projections—to 36.8 million, 4.8 million and 4.6 million passenger, light truck and medium truck tires, respectively — OE shipments in 2020 will be down double digits from 2019: by 20.4 percent, 18 percent and 29 percent respectively.
The USTMA's forecasts are based on input from its members: Bridgestone Americas Inc.; Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C.; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.; Giti Tire (USA) Ltd.; Goodyear; Hankook Tire America Corp.; Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.; Michelin North America Inc.; Nokian Tyres P.L.C.; Pirelli Tire North America; Sumitomo Rubber Industries Inc.; Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc.; and Yokohama Tire Corp.
Separately, U.S. Department of Commerce data show imports of tires were down measurably in all categories through the first nine months of 2020.
Passenger tire imports fell 16.3 percent to 96.5 million units; light truck tire imports were off 3.6 percent to 19.1 million units; and medium/heavy truck tire imports were down 16.8 percent to 9.18 million units.