Little Growth Predicted for 2007 Tire Shipments

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Dan Zielinski
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WASHINGTON, D.C.March 13, 2007 – Tire shipments for 2007 are expected to increase slightly compared to 2006 as limited growth in the replacement tire market will be offset by decreases in the original equipment (OE) markets, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association

Tire shipments for 2007 will reflect the moderate domestic economic growth predicted for both the consumer and commercial sectors. The group projects that in 2007 the replacement tire markets will show an increase of 1.4 percent with OE markets declining 3.8 percent.

Overall, the combined OE and replacement shipments for 2007 auto and truck categories are anticipated to increase by just over one million units to approximately 307 million total shipments.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2007 include:

  • Original Equipment Passenger Tires: This market is projected to decrease in 2007 by approximately 2 percent to 47.3 million units compared to 2006 as a result of a decrease in domestic light vehicle sales and production. This will represent the second year in which light vehicle sales and production have decreased. However, it is anticipated that beginning in 2008 domestic light vehicle sales and production will increase. This, combined with the rising popularity of cross-over utility vehicles fitted with OE passenger tires (rather than light truck tires), are expected to have a positive impact in this category
  • Original Equipment Light Truck Tires: Slightly more then 5 million OE units are forecasted to be shipped in 2007, representing a gain of approximately 1 percent over 2006 levels as a result of increases in domestic light truck production. Any future growth in this sector will be slight as consumers opt for smaller-sized sport utility and light truck vehicles fitted with the P-metric passenger tires.
  • Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: Sales of commercial truck vehicles will experience a sharp drop in 2007 as changes in EPA regulations pulled forward 2007 demand into 2006. The net result will be 21 percent decrease in OE shipments for 2007, or approximately 1.4 million units less then the 6.8 million units shipped in 2006. Future growth is expected to be erratic owing to additional EPA emission regulations taking effect in 2010.
  • Replacement Passenger Tires: The passenger replacement market will increase by a modest 1.4 percent to approximately 199 million units in 2007 representing a gain of 2.7 million units over 2006’s shipments. Growth in this category is predominantly a result of increases in the P-metric tire market (for SUV type vehicles), which is projected to grow more than 7 percent, and the High and Ultra High Performance tire markets, which are projected to increase more than 7 percent and 11 percent, respectively, compared to 2006. Overall, the passenger replacement market will continue to increase by approximately 2 percent through 2009. Steady growth in this segment is largely attributed to continued growth in the number of vehicles on the road and increasing vehicle miles traveled.
  • Replacement Light Truck Tires: This market segment is projected to increase by approximately 800,000 units to 34.4 million units in 2007 with continued growth through 2009 at an average annualized growth rate of approximately 2 percent.
  • Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: This market is projected to be 16.9 million units in 2007, essentially unchanged from 2006’s shipments. However, this category is also forecasted to realize an annualized growth of just less than 2 percent through 2009.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include 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.