Tire shipments are projected to decline by more than 6% this year versus 2007, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). A further 1% decline is predicted for 2009.
"Total tire shipments were below 300 million for the first time since 1997 when shipments were 290 million units," say RMA officials.
The decrease in shipments reflects "sharp downward revisions in the domestic economic conditions predicted for both the consumer and commercial sectors.
"Overall, the combined OE and replacement tire shipments for 2008 light vehicle and truck categories are anticipated to decrease by more than 20 million units to approximately 290 million total shipments compared to the 310 million total shipments in 2007."
A further decline of three million units to nearly 287 million total units is anticipated for 2009 "as the economic rebound is unlikely to occur until the latter half of the year."
The RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee's forecast for key categories for 2008 is as follows:
* OE passenger tire shipments will fall more than 14% to 39 million units in 2008. A further decrease of 3% is expected to occur next year.
* Replacement passenger tire shipments will drop 2.7% (5.5 million units), reaching a level of 198 million units in 2008. No growth is expected in 2009.
* OE light truck tire shipments will plummet 34% in 2008 to a total of 2.9 million units, some 1.5 million units less than previous year levels. The segment will shrink by another 100,000 units in 2009.
* Replacement light truck tire shipments will fall by 4.5 million units (13%) to nearly 29 million units in 2008. Shipments in this category will fall by another 4% in 2009.
* OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire shipments will decrease by 16% in 2008. Shipments will shrink by another 8% in 2009.
* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire shipments will decline to 15.4 million units in 2008, a drop of nearly 1.2 million units from 2007 levels.
This category "will realize another decrease of 300,000 units in 2009 as fewer goods will be transported as a result of the economic slowdown and protracted recovery," say RMA officials.