Shipments will drop 4% this year, says RMA

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Tire shipments are projected to decline by nearly 4% this year versus 2007, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), reflecting "worsening domestic economic pressures."

"Overall, the combined OE and replacement tire shipments for 2008 light vehicle and truck categories are anticipated to decrease by more than 12 million units to approximately 298 million total shipments. Shipments totaled 310 million units in 2007."

The RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2008 is as follows.

* OE passenger tire shipments will decrease by more than 11% to approximately 41 million units in 2008 "as a result of continued decreases in domestic vehicle production. This will mark the lowest level of OE shipments since 1991 when OE shipments stood at 41.8 million units.

"A further decrease of approximately 3 percent is expected for 2009 owing to a protracted economic recovery and continued market share gains for light vehicle imports."

* Replacement passenger tire shipments will decrease by nearly 1%, or approximately 2 million units, reaching a level of 202 million units in 2008. "The 2009 forecast is for no growth due to continuing difficult economic conditions."

* OE light truck tire shipments will fall more than 35% in 2008, accounting for approximately 1.6 million fewer units shipped from the 4.4 million total OE units in 2007. For 2009, "a modest 200,000 unit increase is anticipated owing to resumption of economic growth in the commercial sectors that utilize light truck vehicles," explain RMA officials.

"Due to the fundamental shift in consumer demand for vehicles with higher fuel economy, a shift in vehicle fitments to P-metric passenger tires and market share increases by import vehicle manufacturers, light truck vehicles fitted with LT tires will be significantly impacted."

* Replacement light truck tire shipments are projected to decrease by approximately 2.4 million units, or nearly 7%, to about 32 million units in 2008. "Although the number of vehicles for this market remains steady and largely represented by small commercial vehicles, declining economic conditions and fewer miles driven will contribute to a further projected 5% decline in replacement LT tire shipments in 2009."

* OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire shipments will drop 12% to nearly 4.1 million units in 2008. "This decrease is attributed to the larger than anticipated economic slowdown in the commercial sector. However a considerable rebound of more than 24 percent is forecasted for 2009 as economic activity improves and truck sales increase."

* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire shipments are projected to decline to approximately 16 million units in 2008, a decrease of nearly 600,000 units from 2007 levels.

"Again, the decrease reflects a further weakening of the economy and protracted recovery as fewer goods are being transported."

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