2012 Tire Shipments to Grow 2 Percent

2011 Total Tire Shipment Growth 0.2 Percent

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846

WASHINGTON, D.C.March 7, 2012 – Tire shipments in 2012 are projected to increase by approximately 2 percent – nearly 6 million units- to 290 million units, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). For 2011, tire shipments showed a slight 0.2 percent decrease to 284 million units. Contributing to the small growth were a 26 percent year-over-year increase in gas prices that affected vehicle miles travelled as well as several global natural disasters that affected vehicle builds and OE shipments.

Original equipment (OE) tire shipments for both the light vehicle and commercial truck markets will make up the bulk of the increase in 2012 as continued pent up demand for both for light vehicles and commercial trucks will add to domestic new vehicle sales and production.

Growth in replacement tire shipments is expected to be less than 1 percent, or approximately 242 million total units in 2012 as higher fuel costs may further affect vehicle miles travelled. Nonetheless, the forecast is for continued overall positive economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors as both the Gross Domestic Product and Industrial Production indicators are expected to show moderate growth.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2011 and 2012 include:

  • Original Equipment (OE) Passenger Tires: Passenger OE tire shipments are anticipated to increase by approximately 3 million units, or nearly 8 percent, to 38.6 million units in 2012 as domestic vehicle production is expected to increase. Total light vehicle sales for 2012 are projected to be greater than 13.5 million vehicles, up from 12.8 million vehicles sold in 2011. OE tire shipments for 2011 came in at 35.7 million units, up nearly 8 percent as domestic auto production continued to increase. Of note were the vehicle inventory and availability issues during 2011 as a result of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami, which disrupted supply chains and impacted OE shipments.
  • Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: This category experienced a 15.7 percent increase in 2011 to approximately 4.2 million total units due to a 9 percent increase in domestic vehicle builds using LT tires and improved economic conditions respective to the commercial sectors. Little or no growth is anticipated for 2012 as further vehicle domestic production increases will be small. As a result, total shipments are forecast to remain at approximately 4.2 million units.
  • Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: Medium OE tire shipments increased by approximately 1.7 million units in 2011, or 55 percent, to nearly 5 million units, reflecting pent up demand for commercial trucks and trailers concurrent with a 4.1 percent increase in the Industrial Production Index. This sector is forecast to continue to grow by approximately 12 percent in 2012, or another nearly 600,000 units as the commercial sector continues to strengthen reflecting economic growth forecasts.
  • Replacement Passenger Tire: Shipments decreased in 2011 by 6.2 million units, or 3.1% percent, to 194.4 million units as vehicle miles travelled fell 1.2 percent. The economy is expected to continue to experience a slow rebound in 2012 commensurate with a small increase in miles driven. As a result, an approximate 1 percent growth rate, or nearly 2 million units, is forecast for 2012. Non-RMA imports decreased nearly 9 percent in 2011 but an approximate 7 percent increase is anticipated for 2012.
  • Replacement Light Truck Tire: LT tire shipments showed a slight decrease of 0.3 percent to 28.6 million units in 2011. The increase in new light truck vehicle sales plus fewer miles travelled contributed to this slight decrease in replacement shipments. Similarly, little or no growth is anticipated in 2012 as miles driven by small commercial vehicle market – mainly “class 3” trucks – as well as a core group of consumers will remain relatively constant.
  • Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: This market increased by approximately 700,000 units in 2011 to 16.5 million units, as the commercial sector of the economy grew by nearly 4 percent. For 2012, growth is expected to moderate such that tire shipments will increase by approximately 2 percent, or 400,000 units.


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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 nearly 85 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.