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First-quarter tire shipments: rise in replacement truck tire units is small consolation

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At least domestic replacement truck tire shipments were up through the first three months of 2008. However, consumer shipments, both original equipment and replacement, were way down.

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), replacement truck tire shipments totaled 3.6 million units through March. That includes wide-base tires.

Compared to the first quarter of 2007, shipments were up 0.5%. Unfortunately, OE shipments were down 27.5%.

Replacement and original equipment passenger tire shipments in the United States were down 2.7% and 18.1%, respectively, through March. Light truck shipments fared worse; replacement shipments were down 17.1%, while OE shipments were down a whopping 60.7%.

Here is the RMA's replacement P-metric tire shipment breakdown for each of the first three months of 2008 versus the first three months of 2007:

January: up 2.2%, from 14.7 million units to 15.1 million.

February: down 0.4%, from 15.5 million units to 15.4 million.

March: down 2.7%, from 17.1 million units to 16.6 million.

Overall replacement tire shipments (passenger, light truck and medium/heavy truck) were down 4.4% in March compared to the same period last year. Overall OE shipments in March were down 22.6%.

In March, the RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee predicted that replacement tire shipments in 2008 will remain at or near levels reached in 2007. Growth in the replacement markets "will again be offset by declines in the original equipment tire markets."

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