RMA predicts an increase in replacement consumer shipments in 2008

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Tire shipments in 2008 are projected to remain at or near levels reached in 2007. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), growth in the replacement markets "will again be offset by declines in the original equipment tire markets."

The combined OE and replacement consumer and truck tire shipments are anticipated to increase by fewer than one million units to approximately 311 million total shipments. The less than 1% increase reflects "the moderate domestic economic pressures predicted for both the consumer and commercial sectors."

The RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast the following for 2008:

* OE passenger tires. A decrease of approximately 4% (2.2 million units) to nearly 44 million units is a result of expected decreases in domestic vehicle production due to sales trends and a soft economic climate. "This will mark the sixth consecutive year that domestic light vehicle production has decreased and the third consecutive year of decreased vehicle sales."

However, a nearly 4% increase in shipments is anticipated in 2009 "as the economy stabilizes and consumers return to a more usual purchasing mode."

* OE light truck tires. A decrease of close to 6% (300,000 units) to nearly 4.2 million units "is attributed to reductions in domestic vehicle production that have occurred in the current economic slowdown."

* OE medium/wide-base/heavy truck tires. An increase of just over 1% to approximately 4.7 million units is expected due to "a soft economic climate in the commercial sector, which is not expected to improve until the fourth quarter of 2008." A significant rebound of more than 20% forecasted for 2009 as truck sales resume normal levels and economic activity improves.

* Replacement passenger tires. A moderate increase of 1.5% (three million units) to 207 million units is forecasted, as the current economic environment "will dampen growth for this large segment of the tire industry." A further increase of more than 2% is anticipated in 2009 as favorable economic conditions return.

* Replacement light truck tires. An increase of nearly 1.5% (500,000 units) to nearly 35 million units "is attributed primarily to an expected increase in the number of vehicles in this market. However, the growth is tempered as a result of the downturn in economic conditions in the commercial light truck segment."

* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy truck tires. A decrease of 1.6% (nearly 300,000 units) to 16.3 million units is a reflection of "a weaker and more uncertain economy and less movement of goods."

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