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Passenger tire shipments will reach record level in 2005, says RMA

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Passenger tire shipments are expected to grow to a record 205 million units this year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). In addition, combined original equipment and replacement consumer and commercial tire shipments are expected to increase 2.2% over 2004 levels.

"Steady growth in tire shipments is expected to continue through 2006 as moderate economic expansion continues," say RMA officials.

The RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee forecasts for key categories are as follows:

* OE passenger tire shipments in 2005 versus 2004 "will be unchanged... as domestic auto and light truck production remains constant. A slight decrease of less than one-half of 1% is forecast in 2006 in line with the decrease in vehicle sales.

"This forecast was made before General Motors' recent announcement to close plants and may need to be revised when a clearer understanding of the dynamics between domestic sales and production by U.S. and foreign manufacturers can be ascertained."

* Replacement passenger tire shipments will grow by 3.2%. "Shipments of replacement passenger tires designed for sport and crossover vehicle applications jumped by 15% to 40 million units (in 2005). Additionally, the high and ultra-high performance markets increased 5% and 14%, respectively."

* OE light truck tire shipments will fall 2.5% in 2005 "as consumers opt for smaller-sized crossover vehicles that use passenger tires. Similarly, a further 2.6% decrease is anticipated for 2006."

* Replacement light truck tires are projected to decrease by 1.4% in 2005 but rebound by 2.7% next year, "reflecting the greater number of vehicles on the road and growth in the commercial sector that uses light truck vehicles," according to RMA officials.

* OE medium/wide-base truck tire shipments will jump 10.3% in 2005, with growth through 2006 at more than 6%.

* Replacement medium/wide-base truck tire shipments will grow 4.5%, say RMA officials, "mainly as the result of continued growth in industrial production and freight movement. Further growth of approximately 2% will be realized for 2006."

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