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Tire shipments will fall 16% in 2009, says RMA

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Tire shipments will fall 16% in 2009, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), mainly as a result of massive declines in original equipment passenger and commercial tire units.

"Total 2009 tire shipments are projected to decline approximately 45 million units to 237 million units," say RMA officials.

"This level is approximately 84 million units less than the peak of 321 million units in 2000. The decrease in tire shipments reflects the recent struggles of automotive manufacturers, low consumer confidence, high unemployment, and depressed home values."

However, RMA officials believe that shipments are poised for a rebound in 2010. "Vehicle miles travelled seem to have stabilized and domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors appear to have bottomed... the tire industry is expected to realize a nearly 8% growth in 2010, reaching the 260 million unit level."

Here are the RMA's projections for 2009 by category:

* OE passenger tire shipments will plummet 46% to 21 million units. However, in 2010, shipments are expected to grow by some 11 million units, though "this projection does not account for any changes to the auto industry as a result of further federal intervention or consumer incentive programs."

* Replacement passenger tire shipments will decline 9%, or 18 million units, reaching a level of 176 million units, thanks to "the protracted economic downturn. Growth is anticipated to resume in 2010 with the replacement sector estimated to increase by approximately 5 million units, or slightly better than 3%, in tandem with the projected economic growth in the consumer sector."

* OE light truck tire shipments will drop 12% to nearly 2.6 million units. However, a gain of nearly 100,000 units is expected next year.

* Replacement light truck tire shipments will drop 18% to 24 million units due to "further declines in economic conditions.  An increase of nearly 8% is anticipated in 2010 in keeping with commercial economic forecasts."

* OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire shipments will decline nearly 44% to 2.2. million units in 2009, a decrease of more than 1.6 million tires. Pent-up demand for vehicles in 2010 should result in a net gain of 500,000 units, according to the RMA.

* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tire shipments will decrease more than three million units this year to 12 million units.

"Given the uneven economic rebound forecast for 2010, this market is expected to increase by less than 1 million units to nearly 13 million units" next year, say RMA officials.


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