Tire shipments are projected to drop more than 7 percent in 2009 following a nearly 9 percent drop in 2008 -- including a 30% drop in OEM wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires -- according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
Total 2009 tire shipments are projected to decline approximately 21 million units to 261 million, a level last experienced in 1993 and approximately 60 million units fewer than the 321 million unit peak in 2000.
The decrease in tire shipments reflects the continued erosion of consumer confidence, higher unemployment, depressed sales, a decline in vehicle miles travelled and downward revisions in domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors.
RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2008 include:
- Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: The combination of consumer demand for vehicles with higher fuel economy, a shift in vehicle fitments to P-Metric passenger tires and market share increases by import vehicle manufacturers, will all continue to significantly impact light truck vehicles fitted with LT tires. As a result, this category experienced a decrease of 34.5 percent in 2008 for a total of 2.9 million OE units. For 2009, another 900,000 unit decrease is anticipated owing to the slower economic conditions and its impact on the commercial sectors that utilize light truck vehicles. However, a nearly 300,000 unit gain is anticipated in 2010.
- Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: For 2008, this category decreased by 17.6 percent to 3.8 million units, attributable to the larger than anticipated economic slowdown in the commercial sector. Given the further decreases in economic activity forecasted for this sector in 2009, another nearly 30 percent decline to approximately 2.6 million units is anticipated. However, the economic rebound projected for 2010 along with pent up demand for vehicles is projected to result in a net gain of approximately 600,000 units increase in shipments.
- Replacement Light Truck Tire: This market segment realized a drop of 14 percent, or 4.8 million units, for a total of 29.4 million units in 2008. Although the number of vehicles for this market remains steady and largely represented by small commercial vehicles, declining economic conditions and fewer vehicle miles travelled will contribute to a nearly 8 percent decline in replacement LT tire shipments in 2009. However, an increase of nearly 6 percent is anticipated in 2010 in step with commercial economic forecasts.
- Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: This market declined to 14.8 million units in 2008, a decrease of nearly 1.7 million units or 10.4 percent. The market will realize another decrease of 1.6 million units in 2009 as fewer goods will be transported as a result of the economic slowdown and protracted recovery. But given the economic rebound forecast for 2010, this market is expected to increase to nearly 14 million units.