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RMA: Tire shipments should rebound 2% in 2013

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) says tire shipments are projected to remain unchanged in 2012 at 284 million on units, as an increase in OE shipments offsets a decrease in replacement shipments.

The lack of overall growth can primarily be attributed to continued economic sluggishness. However, an increase in vehicle miles traveled and anticipated economic growth should result in a nearly 2% increase in 2013, or about 6 million units to 290 million total units.

OE tire shipments for both the light vehicle and commercial truck sectors are forecast to increase nearly 13% for 2012 due to increased demand for light vehicles and commercial trucks. Nearly 4% growth is forecast for 2013 as new vehicle demand is expected to increase light vehicle sales to more than 15 million.

Replacement tire shipments will drop to 234 million units in 2012 – a nearly 6 million unit decrease or about 2.5%. For 2013, an increase of more than 3 million units is anticipated as growth in the Gross Domestic Product and the Industrial Production Index for both the consumer and commercial sectors is projected.

RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2012 are as follows:

  • OE passenger tire shipments are anticipated to increase to 41 million units in 2012, a more than 5 million unit improvement, or slightly more than 15%, as light vehicle purchases continue to increase. 2013 OE passenger shipments are expected to increase more than 4% or 1.7 million units. Increased OE shipments are anticipated due to projected total light vehicle sales of greater than 15 million in 2013 – about a 700,000 unit increase above 2012 vehicle sales of more than 14 million.

  • OE light truck tires are projected to increase nearly 2% in 2012 to 4.3 million units as domestic vehicle production using LT tires experienced a small increase due to soft economic conditions in this sector. This category is forecast to grow by an additional 2.8% to nearly 4.4 million units in 2013.

  • OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: Increased demand for commercial trucks and trailers will boost commercial OE tire shipments by more than 5% for 2012, reaching approximately 5.2 million units. However, a sluggish forecast for the 2013 Industrial Production Index should limit growth in 2013 commercial OE shipments to approximately 2%, or nearly 5.3 million total units.

  • Replacement passenger tire: 2012 shipments will decrease by over 4 million units, or nearly 2%, to 190 million units as anticipated demand failed to materialize due to continued soft economic conditions and cautious consumers. According to R.L. Polk & Co., “The increased average age of vehicles on the road, which now stands at 10.8 years for cars and light trucks combined, offer promise for the automotive aftermarket.” These factors bode well for this market segment, with an expected increase of 3 million tire units projected for 2013.

  • Replacement light truck tire: Total 2012 LT replacement shipments will be approximately 28 million, a decrease of approximately 600,000 units, or 2%. Little or no growth is forecast for 2013 as the economy remains soft and new light truck sales further weaken demand for replacement tires.

  • Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: For 2012, this market is forecast to decline by approximately 5%, or 900,000 units, to 15.7 million units as fleets opt for new equipment and the economy remains sluggish. However, 2013 shipments are expected to increase nearly 4%, or approximately 600,000 units.

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