Are Truck Tire Sales Picking Up Speed?

June 18, 2024

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) is projecting a rebound in medium truck tire shipments. The association predicts that 22 million replacement medium truck tire units will be shipped in 2024 — a 5.9% increase over 2023 levels.

MTD recently asked medium truck tire manufacturers if they think 2024 will be a robust year for TBR tire sales. Here are their thoughts.

Taylor Vernier, director, commercial truck marketing, Bridgestone Americas Inc.: We do project a stronger year for medium truck tire sales in the U.S. in 2024. Indications suggest a healthier tire market in general in the coming months, with more bullish economic forecasts looking ahead to the rest of the year.

Aaron Murphy, senior vice president, CMA LLC/Double Coin: CMA expects a similar increase in the replacement market due to economic trends and most importantly, a large decrease in 2023’s replacement market shipments. 2023 exhibited a 20% decrease in replacement market shipments, so a modest rebound of under 6% is a reasonable expectation.

Shaun Uys, vice president, truck tires, U.S., Continental Tire the Americas LLC: After feeling the freight impacts in 2023 with low spot rates, active utilization and shipments throughout the year, we are optimistic for an improvement in 2024. Experts are predicting spot rates and active truck utilization to start increasing in 2024. It looks like the market might get to normality.

Joe Stuglis, senior director, North America commercial sales, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: Overall, we can see upside to the industry following the significant drop in 2023. While in many respects 2023 was a return to normal, we enter 2024 with a lot of question marks. We know market spot rates are low, as is truck capacity utilization. Coupled with freight metrics being softer than where they had been in 2021 and 2022, the industry is still in a bit of a correction. Thailand tariff investigations will certainly cause disruption and we’ve seen that in the first quarter, as industry volume is up significantly. While there’s anticipation the freight environment will recover in the back half of the year, the industry could continue to ebb and flow as it seeks to find its new equilibrium.

Rob Williams, president, Hankook Tire America Corp.: The outlook for the market in 2024 depends on a multitude of factors. Despite industry fluctuations, most commercial (tire) dealers remain cautious and prefer submitting smaller orders to fulfill immediate needs, rather than committing to larger inventory. The lasting effects of excess inventory from 2023 continue to make dealers hesitant to repeat cash-tied scenarios. We are also noticing that sell-in promotions aren’t seeing as much success as they have in the past.

Shawn Denlein, president of sales and marketing, Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.: Following a decline in shipments of TBR tires in 2023, the TBR (tire) market is anticipated to have a recovery period in 2024, with a return to shipment rates more closely aligned to 2021, driven by several factors, including implementation of greenhouse gas regulations, which could lead fleets to replace tires in order to comply with new regulations; continued stabilization of freight rates; an expectation of higher truck counts on the road, with the introduction of electric trucks; (and a) return to normal maintenance routines after a period of deferred maintenance in the industry. Unit growth is expected to be fueled by entry-level products.

Pierluigi Cumo, vice president, B2B marketing, Michelin North America Inc.: We feel the 2024 medium truck tire market will return to stable growth levels coming off double-digit declines in sales during 2023. With the continued reduction of both capacity in the fleet marketing, combined with demand that will be slightly above 2023 levels, this should lead to limited growth in 2024.

Samuel Felberbaum, president, Prinx Chengshan Tire North America (PCTNA): Based upon the start to 2024, we believe that the TBR market will be flat for the remainder of the year. With diesel, interest rates and inflation all at higher-than-normal levels, coupled with reduced freight demand, this hurts independent trucking fleets and owner-operators, which translates into reduced sales. Furthermore, (with) the potential of an anti-dumping duty being enacted by Department of Commerce, our overall position has been in a wait-and-see mode. PCTNA remains positive that the second half of 2024 will return to normal sales volume ... once the anti-dumping duty decision has been made and determined.

Alan Eagleson, segment manager, TBR, Sailun Tire Americas: In order to look forward in 2024, you have to look backward and take history into account. If you go back to the fourth quarter of 2022, truck tire orders dropped off significantly due to such high demand during the post COVID-19 times. Demand eased and dealers had lots of inventory. Resulting sales in the first quarter of 2023 were lower than normal due to the reduced orders from (the previous quarter in) 2022. Fast forward to the fourth quarter of 2023, order levels returned to normal. Therefore, first quarter sales (in) 2024 looked great for most. Now the trucking industry is starting to slow and future orders could begin to reflect this. I think that after a hot start to 2024, the balance of the year could come in flat. It could result in a 5.9% increase but, I think that is optimistic.

John MacMullin, vice president of business development, Sutong Tire Resources Inc.: If you would have asked me this question back in January going into an election year, I would have said yes. But over the last several months, we have seen continued inflation compounded by high interest rates contributing to a slowdown in the market and distributors’ inventories bulging.

David Demo, manager, commercial products and business development, Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.: Despite the USTMA reporting a sluggish start in the first quarter of 2024, Toyo continues to see increased growth and needs in certain segments of the market for our medium truck tire sales.

Stephen Reynolds, OTR sales director, Triangle Tire USA: We’re seeing a more stable TBR market so far in 2024 and believe this will continue for the remainder of the year. To say the last few years have been up and down would be quite the understatement. After COVID-19, we had strong demand that severely strained the supply chain and then the oversupply of TBR units starting in the second quarter of 2023 continued to create a real challenge through the end of 2023.

Distributor and manufacturer warehouses were filled to the brim with units. In 2024, we see dealers making good progress on right-sizing their inventories, and some prior unknowns — such as raw material pricing — have been stabilized quite a bit. A stable, more predictable TBR market creates good opportunities for dealers and manufacturers.

Demetric Mass, national sales manager, Galaxy TBR, Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America Inc.: I believe 2024 is going to be a very big year in the tier two and tier three segments of the tire and bus radial side of the industry. The TBR business has been characterized by large swings since COVID-19 and this year will be likely to continue that pattern.

Trucking has softened a bit since its pandemic peak, but large stocks of truck tires purchased in late-2023 and the first quarter of this year will be sold down by the third quarter.

I expect to see high demand as distributors and dealers replenish their inventory in the second half of 2024. With a more level playing field in terms of price — due to the possibility that tariffs will be levied against some lower-tier manufacturers in parts of Asia — a significant part of the truck tire market can shift away from selling purely on price. Instead, we can focus on the value a great tire delivers, dependability, performance and total cost of ownership.

We will also see a particularly strong emphasis on regional truck tires, which is a result of the massive shift to shorter-haul trucking created by online retailers and their regional hub and delivery systems. From what we are hearing from our customers throughout the supply chain, we anticipate an exciting and successful 2024.

Dan Funkhouser, vice president of commercial sales, Yokohama Tire Corp.: We are expecting a correction versus 2023, but not quite to the all-time highs the market saw in 2022. Customers are either adjusting or have finished adjusting their inventories and are ready for a stable, predictable market.

I believe there is going to be an increase in construction projects due to economic stimulus. This should lead to an increase in mixed-service tire lines. Regional trucking will increase as smaller businesses move from long-haul to shorter regional routes.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.