2012 Tire Shipments Unchanged

1.5 Percent Rebound Anticipated In 2013

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

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2013 – Tire shipments remained unchanged in 2012 at 284 million total units, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) as a 10 percent increase in OE shipments offset a nearly 2 percent decrease in replacement shipments.

The absence of overall growth can primarily be attributed to a cautious consumer as well as economic uncertainties in both the commercial and consumer sectors of the replacement market.

Nonetheless, there are several positive signs including, a declining unemployment rate, a rebound in housing, and increases in vehicle sales and vehicle miles traveled. These and other macroeconomic factors should result in approximately 288 million total tire shipments in 2013, an increase of approximately 4 million units or nearly 1.5 percent.

Original equipment (OE) tire shipments for both the light vehicle and commercial truck sectors increased 10 percent for 2012 due to increased demand for light vehicles and commercial trucks. A nearly 6 percent growth is forecast for 2013 as new vehicle demand is expected to increase light vehicle sales to more than 15 million.

Replacement tire shipments declined in 2012 to approximately 235 million total units – a nearly 5 million unit decrease, or about 2 percent decline. For 2013, a modest increase of 1 million units is anticipated as small growth is expected in the Gross Domestic Product and the Industrial Production Index for both the consumer and commercial sectors.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee report for key categories and their respective segments for 2012 and its forecast for 2013 include:

  • Original Equipment (OE) Passenger Tires: Passenger OE tire shipments increased by 12.1 percent to 40 million units in 2012, a 4.3 million unit improvement. This reflects the 1.7 million unit increase in light vehicle sales for 2012, reaching approximately 14.4 million light vehicles. For 2013, light vehicle sales are anticipated to increase another 4.2 percent and crest the 15 million unit mark. As such, 2013 OE passenger shipments are expected to increase more than 6 percent or approximately 2.7 million units.
  • Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: Light truck OE tires increased 1.5 percent in 2012 to 4.3 million units as domestic vehicle production using LT tires experienced a marginal increase due to soft economic conditions in this sector. This category is forecast to grow by nearly 100,000 units in 2013, or approximately 3 percent.
  • Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: A increase in demand for commercial trucks and trailers in 2012 boosted commercial OE tire shipments by 2.6 percent, reaching approximately 5.1 million units. However, demand for new trucks is expected to level off in 2013 and little or no change in the total OE tire units is anticipated.
  • Replacement Passenger Tire: 2012 shipments decreased by 3.5 million units, or 1.8 percent, to 190.9 million units as anticipated demand failed to materialize due to continued soft economic conditions and cautious consumers. For 2013, improving economic conditions, positive signs of jobs added, and growth in vehicle miles traveled will be tempered by spending pressure on consumers. As a result passenger replacement shipments are forecast to increase by a modest 1 million units.
  • Replacement Light Truck Tire: Total 2012 LT replacement shipments was 28.1 million units, a decrease of approximately 500,000 units, or 1.9 percent. A nearly 1 percent growth is forecast for 2013 given the slowly improving economy and signs of improvement in the housing market.
  • Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: For 2012, this market declined by 4 percent, or 700,000 units, to 15.8 million units as fleets opt for new equipment and the economy remained sluggish. No increase is forecast for 2013 owing to a sluggish commercial sector.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that make tires in the U.S.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee is comprised of tire market professionals representing the major U.S. tire manufacturers, which account for more than 90 percent of all U.S. tire shipments. Their analyses and forecasts of current and future industry activity include a review of RMA tire industry and economic data, government trade figures, and vehicle sales and production. TMAC develops its consensus view for tire demand from this process. The views expressed in this release are not the sole opinion of any one committee member, member company, or RMA representative.