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RMA: Tire shipments are up, up and way up

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) released the preliminary edition of its "2015 Factbook" on Feb. 13. The publication is a report on tire shipment activity in the United States for 2014.

Compared to 2013, passenger and light truck tire shipments were both up -- but not as much as truck and bus tire shipments.

In the domestic replacement market, passenger tire shipments were up 3.6% (from 199.3 million to 206.5 million), while light truck tire shipments were up 2.4% (from 28 million to 28.7 million). Truck and bus tire shipments were up nearly 11% (from 15.7 million to 17.4 million).

Original equipment shipments also rose in all three segments. Passenger tire shipments were up 9.6% to 47.8 million units (after being up 9% the year before and 12% the year before that). Light truck tire shipments were up 5.1% to 4.6 million units, while truck tire shipments were up a whopping 18.2%, to 5.7 million units.

Replacement and OE shipments combined for 310.7 million units, up close to 5% versus 2013.

Passenger and light truck tire exports from RMA members were up 7.7%, from 28.4 million units to 30.6 million units. In contrast, commercial (medium, heavy and wide-base) tire exports were down 5.9%, to 2.4 million units.

Overall RMA production was up 3.4%, to 161.6 million units, broken out as follows: Passenger tire production was up 1.7%, light truck tire production was up 10.7%, and truck tire production was up 4.9%.

Tire imports, based on U.S. Department of Commerce data, were up nearly 6.3% across the board, broken out as follows: up 4.7% for passenger tire imports, up 5.6% for light truck tire imports, up 29.1% for truck tire imports.

Manufacturers accounted for 81% of the replacement passenger tire shipments, down from 84% in 2013, and 82% of the light truck tires, down from 84%. Here's the breakdown of replacement shipments by brand-type (with 2013 percentages in parentheses):

Type                      Passenger   Light truck

Manufacturers       81% (84%)    82% (84%)

Associate                11% (8%)     9% (7%)

Private                     8% (8%)    10% (9%)

Based on the first point of distribution, independent tire dealers accounted for 67% of passenger tire shipments in 2014 compared to 65% the previous year. They accounted for 80% of light truck tire shipments, the same as in 2013.

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