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RMA says tire shipments will rise 2% in '14

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Tire shipments are expected to increase more than 4% in 2013 to 297 million units, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). This represents an increase of 12 million units compared with 2012.

In 2014, RMA expects demand will reach 302 million passenger, light truck and truck tire shipments, an increase of nearly 2% compared with 2013. A declining unemployment rate, a rebound in housing, increases in vehicle sales and vehicle miles traveled, as well as other macroeconomic factors are expected to account for the 2014 increase.

* Original equipment passenger tires: Passenger OE tire shipments for 2013 are anticipated to be 43 million units, a nearly 3 million unit increase over 2012. This reflects expected sales of 15.5 million light vehicles for 2013, approximately 1 million vehicles more than in 2012. Demand for OE tire shipments is anticipated to increase approximately 1.5 million units in 2014 as light vehicle sales are expected to approach 16 million units.

* Original equipment light truck (LT) tires:  Light truck OE tire shipments for 2013 are projected to be 4.5 million units, an approximate 5% increase over 2012, reflecting improved domestic vehicle production using LT tires as well as stronger growth in housing and construction. Demand for tires in this category is forecast to grow by approximately 2% in 2014 to 4.6 million units as the economy continues to expand.

* Original equipment medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: Commercial OE tire shipments should decrease in 2013 by 4% to about 4.9 million units. A decrease in demand for commercial trucks and trailers accounts for fewer shipments. However, new truck demand is expected to rebound in 2014, boosting demand for tires by approximately 5% to nearly 5.1 million units.

* Replacement passenger tires: Increases in vehicle miles driven and registered vehicles triggered a boost in 2013 replacement passenger tire shipments to an expected 200 million units, a nearly 5% increase or 9 million units compared with 2012. For 2014, continued improvement of economic conditions coupled with lower fuel prices should slightly increase demand for passenger replacement tires by 2 million units or 1%.

* Replacement light truck (LT) tires: Replacement LT tire shipments are expected to be 29 million in 2013, an increase of 800,000 units or about 3%. A further increase in demand of nearly 2% or 600,000 units is forecast for 2014 as the economy gains additional momentum.

* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: This segment  is expected to decline by nearly 2% to 15.9 million units in 2013 as a driver shortage has limited truck utilization. However, an approximately 300,000 unit increase in demand or 2% is anticipated in 2014 as truck tonnage and manufacturing continue to grow.

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