2010 domestic tire shipments post nine percent increase
Growth in 2011 expected to be moderate

Tire shipments are projected to increase by more than 9 percent in 2010 due to sharp increases in original equipment manufacturer (OEM) passenger and commercial truck tires as well as increases in passenger and commercial truck replacement shipments, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Total 2010 tire shipments are projected to increase by approximately 24 million units to 284 million units – a 9 percent increase compared to 2009. Nearly half of this increase is attributed to the large increases in OE tire shipments, owing to the resumption of domestic vehicle manufacturing as well as an increase in light vehicle sales driven by manufacturer’s incentive programs and low auto loan interest rates during the 2010 calendar year.

Replacement shipments will also experience significant growth in 2010 as a result of increases in vehicle miles travelled, stable energy prices, longer vehicle life and overall positive domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors.

An additional 2 percent growth in tire shipments is forecast for 2011, reaching nearly 290 million units as economic uncertainty will restrain growth for overall tire shipments.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2010 and 2011 include:

•Original Equipment (OE) Passenger Tires: Passenger OE tire shipments are anticipated to increase by approximately 11 million units, or nearly 44 percent, in 2010 as domestic vehicle production resumes and consumers take advantage of incentive programs and low interest rates. New vehicles sold in the United States are projected to increase by six percent in 2011 due to continued improvement in economic conditions.

•Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: This category will experience an approximate 31 percent increase, or 900,000 units, in 2010 to nearly 3.7 million units due to improved economic conditions respective to the commercial sectors which utilize light truck vehicles. Little or no growth is anticipated for 2011 as no increase is anticipated in domestic vehicle production.

•Original Equipment Medium/ Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: A nearly 24 percent increase to approximately 3 million units is anticipated for 2010 – an increase of approximately 600,000 units – reflecting a significant increase in the Industrial Production Index for 2010 in combination with pent up demand for new vehicles. This sector is expected to continue to rebound in 2011 with OE tire shipments projected to gain an approximate 750,000 units.

•Replacement Passenger Tire: Shipments for this category are projected to increase approximately 9 million units in 2010 to nearly 199 million units, representing a growth rate of approximately 5 percent. However, growth in 2011 will be tempered as continued economic uncertainties for the consumer will result in a less than a 2 percent increase, or nearly 3 million units. Respective to imports, the imposition of a three year Chinese import tariff in September 2009 decreased Chinese imports but effectively increased imports from other Pacific Rim countries such that non-RMA imports are forecast to increase nearly six percent in 2010. Additional increases in imports are anticipated for 2011 growing another approximate 5 percent.

•Replacement Light Truck Tire: The onset of the economic recovery has also improved the outlook for LT tire shipments with shipments forecasted to increase by 300,000 units to approximately 28 million units total, a gain of nearly 1 percent. Little or no increase is anticipated in 2011 in keeping with commercial economic forecasts. This segment represents the small commercial vehicle market – mainly “class 3” trucks – as well as a core group of consumers.

•Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: The market is anticipated to increase by approximately 2.6 million units in 2010 to nearly 15.5 million units. Given the uneven economic rebound forecast for 2011, this market is expected to increase by approximately 600,000 units to nearly 16 million units.