US tyre shipments unchanged in 2012, says RMA
According to figures published by the Rubber Manufacturers Association, or RMA, US tyre shipments in 2012 amounted to 284 million units. This is unchanged from the previous year – the RMA says a ten per cent increase in original equipment shipments offset a nearly two per cent decrease in replacement shipments, and it states this 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, the RMA believes that positive signs, including rising vehicle sales and vehicle miles travelled, will result in a 1.5 per cent rise in tyre shipments this year. The association estimates approximately 288 million tyre shipments for 2013.
Original equipment tyre shipments for both the light vehicle and commercial truck sectors increased ten per cent last year due to increased demand for light vehicles and commercial trucks. Growth of almost six per cent is forecast for 2013 as new vehicle demand is expected to increase light vehicle sales to more than 15 million. Replacement tyre shipments declined in 2012 to approximately 235 million total units, a decrease of nearly 5 million units. 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.
The RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee report for key categories and their respective segments for 2012 and its forecast for 2013 include:
Original equipment passenger tyres: Passenger OE tyre shipments increased by 12.1 per cent 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 per cent and crest the 15 million unit mark. As such, 2013 OE passenger shipments are expected to increase more than six per cent or approximately 2.7 million units.
Original equipment light truck tyres: Light truck OE tyres increased 1.5 per cent in 2012 to 4.3 million units as domestic vehicle production using LT tyres 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 three per cent.
Original equipment medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tyres: An increase in demand for commercial trucks and trailers in 2012 boosted commercial OE tyre shipments by 2.6 per cent, 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 tyre units is anticipated.
Replacement passenger tyres: 2012 shipments decreased by 3.5 million units, or 1.8 per cent, to 190.9 million units as anticipated demand failed to materialise due to continued soft economic conditions and cautious consumers. For 2013, improving economic conditions, positive signs of jobs added, and growth in vehicle miles travelled 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 tyres: Total 2012 light truck replacement shipments were 28.1 million units, a decrease of approximately 500,000 units, or 1.9 per cent. A nearly one per cent 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 tyres: For 2012, this market declined by four per cent, or 700,000 units, to 15.8 million units as fleets opted for new equipment and the economy remained sluggish. No increase is forecast for 2013 owing to a sluggish commercial sector.