Tire Shipments Forecasted to Decline in 2006

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. November 30, 2006 - Tire shipments are estimated to decrease by 4.5 percent in 2006, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

The decrease in tire shipments reflects the overall slowdown in the U.S. economy during 2006. Factors cited for this slowdown include shrinking GDP during the calendar year, higher energy costs, and a declining housing market.

However, RMA projects a modest rebound in 2007 with the total tire shipments expected to increase by nearly 4 million units to 310 million units, or approximately 1.4 percent. Overall, the combined original equipment and replacement shipments for 2006 auto and truck categories are anticipated to decrease by 14.4 million units to nearly 306 million units.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2006 through 2011 include:

  • Original Equipment Passenger Tires: This market is projected to decrease by more than 8 percent, or 4.6 million units, to approximately 48 million units in 2006 as a result of a decrease in domestic light vehicle sales and subsequent decreases in domestic light vehicle production. No growth is expected in 2007 with total shipments remaining at around the 48 million unit level.
  • Original Equipment Light Truck Tires: Approximately 5 million units are projected to be shipped in 2006 to be followed by a 4 percent, or 200,000 unit increase in 2007. The increase is owed to the demand for small commercial trucks over the next year. Note that there has been a change in reporting this category beginning in 2006 as Service Trailer tires are no longer included in this category. As such figures for previous years are not comparable.
  • Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: Approximately 6.8 million OE units are estimated to be shipped in 2006 for an increase of nearly 9 percent, or 560,000 units. This increase can be attributed to the significant growth of sales of commercial truck vehicles over the calendar year as a result of continued vehicle replacement demand and response to changes in 2007 EPA emission regulations. A sharp decline of approximately 20 percent, or approximately 1.5 million units, is anticipated in 2007 to 5.4 million units given that some pulled-ahead truck sales that would have been realized in 2007 are being shifted to 2006. Note that there has been a change in reporting this category beginning in 2006 as Heavy On-Highway truck tires are now included to obtain a more accurate portrayal of the commercial tire market.
  • Replacement Passenger Tire: The passenger replacement market will decrease by approximately 3.2 percent in 2006 to nearly 196 million units, or 6.5 million units. Nonetheless, the P-metric (for SUV type vehicles) and Ultra High Performance tire markets are projected to increase by approximately 4 percent and 12 percent, respectively, compared to 2005. A modest rebound of over 2 percent, or approximately 4 million units, is forecasted in 2007 as the affects of higher energy prices wane. As a result, total passenger replacement shipments are anticipated to reach 200 million units again.
  • Replacement Light Truck Tire: This market segment is projected to decrease by approximately 7.2 percent, or nearly 2.6 million units, to 33.4 million units in 2006 due to the increasing popularity and numbers of cross-over vehicles and smaller SUVs that use P-metric passenger tires rather than light truck tires.
  • Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: This market is projected to decrease by approximately 2 percent, or 300,000 units, to 17.2 million units in 2006. However, shipments will increase by the nearly the same number of units in 2007 to reach 17.5 million units. Note that there has been a change in reporting this category beginning in 2006 as Heavy On-Highway truck tires are now included in order to obtain a more accurate portrayal of the commercial tire market.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.

RMA’s General Products Group Renamed The Elastomer Products Group

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.November 27, 2006 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association’s industrial products division is changing its name from the “General Products Group” (GPG) to the “Elastomer Products Group” (EPG). The change is recognition by the RMA leadership that TPEs are a growing market segment within the broader “non-tire” rubber industry sector represented by the (former) GPG.

“The growing popularity and demand for TPE-based application throughout the world made the decision to reach out more aggressively to TPE resin producers and product-makers a natural progression,” said Kevin D. Ott, vice president, Elastomer Products Group. “With the Elastomer Products Group, RMA will be better positioned to serve the broader elastomer industry and provide programs, benchmarking reports, worker training and certification, specialized conferences, and other services of continued value that will now include all sectors of the elastomers business.”

TPEs are rubber-based compounds that can be processed like plastics and are recyclable and easily colorable. TPEs are already being adopted in hundreds of applications, ranging from automotive sealing systems to medical devices and consumer products. TPEs share many properties with traditional thermoset rubbers (TSRs).

TSRs are the basis for hundreds of applications, including under-the-hood automotive components, sealing systems, gaskets, power transmission belts, hoses and dozens of other high-stress applications.

RMA’s short-term plans, among other activities, will include gathering and providing TPE industry data and information to help businesses evaluate their positions in the marketplace. “We will now serve as a business voice for both the traditional thermoset elastomers sector and the TPE industry as well,” Ott said. “We hope the entire elastomers industry will view RMA as a key resource as we move forward.”

Additionally, two RMA events already in planning stages will feature speakers and activities to highlight the market for TPE’s and the inherent opportunities for domestic and global elastomer businesses.

The first event is the RMA Elastomer Products Group annual meeting, February 26, 2007 in Tucson, AZ. The meeting will feature the remarks by Robert Eller, an Akron-based business consultant specializing in decision quality analysis in support of management in the global plastics and rubber industries. The meeting will also address workforce development issues impacting the entire manufacturing sector. EPG will also be forming a TPE Business Council that will meet at the 2007 Annual Meeting.

Another event, tentatively titled, “TPEs and the Thermoset Rubber Industry: Market Trends, Threats and Business Opportunities,” is scheduled for June 2007 in the Cleveland area and will be sponsored by several TPE and TSR industry interests. This business seminar, geared toward manufacturers of thermoset rubber products, polymer suppliers and the rubber industry supply chain is planned as a non-commercial series of presentations for the rubber industry and other attendees, and will include a design seminar and global market-trend analyses for both TSRs and TPEs.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.

Tire Industry Rolls Out Sixth National Tire Safety Week

Effort Aims to Educate Motorists about Proper Tire Care

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. November 13, 2006 - Tire manufacturers will again be spearheading a week-long effort to educate motorists about proper tire care during the sixth National Tire Safety Week, April 22-28, 2007.

The annual event is an initiative of the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s “Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART” program, a year-round effort designed to help drivers learn the simple steps they can take to ensure that their tires are in good working condition. RMA is the national trade association for tire manufacturers.

“This annual event is becoming more anticipated by the tire industry,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA vice president, communications. “We continue to see increased levels of participation by tire retailers, auto dealers, auto repair facilities and AAA clubs. The event is an opportunity to communicate with customers about the importance tire maintenance plays in vehicle and highway safety.”

Zielinski said that participation in National Tire Safety Week grew from 12,000 retail outlets in 2005 to 15,000 in 2006. Most outlets participate by offering RMA’s “Be Tire Smart” brochures. He also noted that more retailers each year are taking advantage of the opportunity by advertising, holding promotions, free tire pressure checks and conducting media outreach.

“National Tire Safety Week has been a success because of the efforts by thousands of tire retailers, auto dealers, auto repair stations and others,” said Zielinski. “We are grateful that we are able to take advantage of the expertise, experience and enthusiasm of so many people who are knowledgeable about tire care and dedicated to consumer education.”

Partners in the Be Tire Smart program include tire retailers, auto dealers, safety advocates and state government agencies. Among the list of Be Tire Smart partners are: AAA, American Car Care Centers (ACCC), Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), Big 10 Tires, Belle Tire, Big O Tires, Costco, Discount Tire Co., Firestone Complete Auto Care, Goodyear Auto Centers, Kaufman Tire, Les Schwab, Merchant’s Tire, National Tire and Battery (NTB), National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Northwest Tire, Peerless Tires, Pep Boys, Sears Automotive Centers, STS Tire and Auto Centers, Sullivan Tires, Tire Factory, Tire Industry Association (TIA), Tire Kingdom, Tires Plus, Tire Warehouse, Town Fair Tires, VIP Parts, Tires and Service, and many others.

Tire and auto retailers who are interested in obtaining free RMA materials for National Tire Safety Week can order them online at www.betiresmart.org. Those who have participated in the event before can expect to receive materials again this year.

The Be Tire Smart program is funded by RMA’s tire manufacturer members: Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., Continental Tire North America, Inc., Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Michelin North America, Pirelli North America, Inc., Toyo Tire North America, and Yokohama Tire Corporation.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.

Tire Manufacturer Group Issues Service Bulletin for Nitrogen Inflation of Passenger and Light Truck Tires

TISB 44-Using Nitrogen to Inflate Passenger and Light Truck Tires in Normal Service Applications

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.November 6, 2006 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association today issued a service bulletin on “Using Nitrogen to Inflate Passenger and Light Truck Tires in Normal Service Applications.”

The use of nitrogen inflation systems by tire retailers has increased in recent years. RMA, which represents tire manufacturers, issued the Tire Information Service Bulletin to provide general information about inflating tires with nitrogen.

The RMA bulletin notes that nitrogen is an inert (non-flammable) gas – basically, nothing more than dry air with oxygen removed (air contains about 78% nitrogen). Because of its inert properties, nitrogen is often used in highly specialized service applications and/or demanding environments.

Applications such as aircraft, mining, and commercial/heavy use utilize nitrogen to help reduce the risk of internal combustion (fire) if the brake/rim/wheel components overheat. Also, dry nitrogen is used in professional racing to help reduce variation in inflation pressures (caused by moisture) where even small differences in pressure can affect vehicle handling at the extreme limits of performance.

For normal tire service applications, nitrogen inflation is not required. However, nitrogen inflation is permissible as its properties may contribute to minor reductions in inflation pressure loss. Nevertheless, several other sources of pressure leaks, such as punctures, tire/rim interface (bead), valve, valve/rim interface, and the wheel, may negate the benefit of nitrogen.

If the tire inflation pressure is below the pressure specified on the vehicle placard, the tire must be re-inflated – whether with air or nitrogen – to the proper inflation pressure.

RMA warns that depending on nitrogen alone to reduce the requirements for inflation maintenance may, in fact, lead to under inflated operation, which may result in premature tire failure.

“With the right amount of inflation pressure, you will achieve optimum tire performance,” RMA wrote. “This means your tires will wear longer, save fuel and help prevent accidents.”

And above all, the RMA bulletin strongly reminded motorists to check tire pressure at least once a month when tires are cold and to use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure.

“Whether inflated by air or nitrogen, regular inflation pressure maintenance remains critical and necessary,” RMA wrote. “Use of nitrogen alone is not a replacement for regular inflation pressure maintenance.”

Consumers can download RMA’s Tire Service Information Bulletins at www.rma.org.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.