RMA: 'Tire shipments will grow more than 1%'

March 13, 2006

Tire shipments in 2006 are expected to grow by more than 1% compared to last year, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), "with increases in the replacement tire market offsetting decreases in the original equipment markets.

"The increases in tire shipments for 2006 continue to reflect steady economic growth in the consumer and commercial sectors," say RMA officials.

The group projects continued annualized growth of approximately 1.7% for total tire shipments through 2011.

"Overall, the combined OE and replacement shipments for 2006 auto and truck categories are anticipated to increase by 3.8 million units to nearly 325 million units versus 320.8 million total shipments in 2005. By 2011, this figure is projected to be approximately 352 million units."

The RMA’s Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2006 through 2011 is as follows:

* OE passenger tires: "This market is projected to decrease by more than 2% to approximately 52 million units in 2006 as a result of a decrease in domestic light vehicle sales and subsequent decreases in domestic light vehicle production.

"A modest annualized growth of approximately 1% is expected through 2011 as total shipments return to the 55 million-unit level as a result of increases in light vehicle sales and production and increases in the popularity of cross-over utility vehicles, which are fitted with OE passenger tires."

* Replacement passenger tires: "The passenger replacement market will increase by slightly more then 2% to over 206 million units for 2006 representing a gain of 4.2 million units over 2005’s shipments.

"Growth in this category is due predominantly to increases in certain subcategories. The P-metric tire market (for SUV-type vehicles) is projected to grow more than 10% and the high and ultra-high performance tire markets are projected to increase more than 5% and 11%, respectively, compared to 2005.

"Overall, the passenger replacement market will continue to increase at approximately 2% per year through 2011, at which point the total units shipped will approach 227 million.

"Steady growth in this segment is largely attributed to continued growth in the number of vehicles on the road and increasing vehicle miles traveled."

* OE light truck tires: "Approximately 6 million units are projected for 2006 and it is forecasted to remain at or near this level through 2011 as consumers opt for smaller-sized sport utility and light truck vehicles, which are fitted with the P-metric passenger tires," say RMA officials.

"Note that there has been a change in reporting this category beginning in 2006 as service trailer tires are no longer included in this category. As such, figures for previous years are not comparable."

* Replacement light truck tires: "This market segment is projected to increase by approximately 200,000 units to 36.2 million units in 2006, with continued growth through 2011 at an average annualized growth rate of approximately 2%," say RMA officials.

* OE medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: "Sales of commercial truck vehicles will experience modest growth in 2006 due to continued vehicle replacement demand and response to future changes in Environmental Protection Agency emission regulations. The net result will be 6.5 million OE shipments for 2006.

"A sharp decline of approximately 15% is anticipated in 2007, after which growth will be erratic in response to additional EPA emission regulations taking effect in 2010. Note that there has been a change in reporting this category beginning in 2006 as heavy on-highway truck tires are now included in order to obtain a more accurate portrayal of the commercial tire market."

* Replacement medium/wide-base/heavy on-highway commercial truck tires: "This market is projected to be 17.8 million units in 2006, mainly as a result of the continued growth in industrial production.

"An annualized growth of just less than 1% will be realized through 2011, at which time shipments are estimated to be over 18 million units."