The U.S. truck tire market looked much different at the end of last year than it does now. Through the end of 2019, 18.7 million medium truck tires had been shipped through the replacement downward trajectory, but numbers were still at respectable levels. And tonnage was increasing, albeit slightly. Then, not too long later, COVID-19 hit. And to say that things have not been the same since is an understatement.
Dandelions. Orange oil. Soybean oil. Guayule. With each new experiment in the building process, it’s clear tire makers are in the hunt for sustainable substitutes for rubber compounding materials in the tire manufacturing process.
One of the highlights of the annual Tire Industry Association (TIA) OTR Tire Conference is the tire manufacturers’ panel discussion. This year, seven companies had executives participate. The 2018 panel discussion was held on Feb. 23, which was prior to the government’s announcement that it would be looking to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Each panelist was given the opportunity to discuss his company’s position in the market, views on the industry and plans for the future. What follows is a summation of each panelist’s prepared comments.