Slight Growth Predicted for 2007 Tire Shipments

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Dan Zielinski
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WASHINGTON, D.C.December 14, 2007 – Tire shipments are expected to increase slightly in 2007 as growth in the replacement markets will offset declines in the original equipment (OE) tire markets, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association

Revisions to RMA’s 2007 tire shipments forecast are a reflection of revised U.S. economic growth forecasts for both the consumer and commercial sectors. RMA projects that replacement tire markets in 2007 will show an increase of approximately 2.7 percent with OE markets declining nearly 8.2 percent.

Overall, the combined OE and replacement shipments for 2007 auto and truck categories are expected to increase by 1.8 million units, or 0.6 percent to approximately 308 million total shipments.

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

  • Original Equipment Passenger Tires: For 2007, this market is projected to decrease by approximately 2.2 million units to 46.0 million units or 4.5 percent. This is a result of weaker than anticipated new vehicle sales, which has caused domestic fourth quarter production cuts. Moderate growth of approximately 2 percent is forecast for 2008 to match the increase in domestic light vehicle production.
  • Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: Shipments are predicted to be approximately 4.4 million units in 2007, representing a decrease of approximately 12 percent or 600,000 units versus 2006 levels. This decrease is attributed to more consumer light truck type vehicles being fitted with P-metric passenger tires rather than LT tires and further cuts in domestic vehicle production. However, a growth of over 4% to 4.6 million units is forecast for 2008 as this category is expected to be more dependent on commercial light truck applications and domestic vehicle production is expected to increase.
  • Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: Sales of commercial truck vehicles have experienced a sharp drop in 2007 as changes in EPA regulations pulled forward 2007 truck sales into 2006. As a result, this category is forecast to decrease nearly 31 percent for the year, or approximately 2.1 million units for a total of 4.7 million units. However a moderate rebound of 6.4 percent to approximately 5 million units total is forecast for 2008 as production returns to more normal levels.
  • Replacement Passenger Tire: Passenger replacement market will experience an increase of 3.3 percent in 2007 to reach approximately 203 million in total. This represents an increase of 6.5 million units over 2006’s shipments as a result of pent up demand from 2006 and the increase in imported tires. Growth in 2008 is projected to increase by nearly 2.5 percent, or approximately 5 million units as the number of registered light vehicles continue to increase. Vehicle miles driven in the U.S. have not been significantly affected by higher fuel costs.
  • Replacement Light Truck Tire: This market segment is forecast to increase by approximately 600,000 units to approximately 34.2 million units in 2007 primarily a result of higher demand from commercial vehicles using LT type tires. Shipments in 2008 are forecast to increase by 1 million units as a result of higher vehicle registrations.
  • Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: The forecast for this market is forecast to reach 16.4 million units in 2007, a decrease of 2.7 percent or 500,000 units from 2006’s shipments, reflecting a weaker economic forecast for the fourth quarter of 2007. However, a nearly 3 percent rebound is forecast for 2008, or 500,000 additional units, as the nation’s industrial sector gains momentum.

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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.