Infrastructure, Tiremaker Priorities Are Connected, Says USTMA

April 5, 2021

“There is a natural connection between priorities of the tire manufacturing industry and revitalizing infrastructure," says Anne Forristall Luke, president and CEO of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA.)

The group has released key findings from a recent economic outlook analysis, pointing out opportunities for U.S. tire manufacturers over the next several years.

"The safety and sustainability of the life cycle of our products depends on having safe bridges and roads to travel, and even exploring how recycled tires can help create longer-lasting roads," says Luke.

"And as we are grateful for the signs of recovery our sector has experienced in recent months, including better-than-expected results for tire shipments in 2020, we are also encouraged that some of the key report findings align with strategic initiatives already underway within the tire manufacturing sector.”

The USTMA's analysis, which was conducted in late-2020, covers four areas: economic impact and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, digital transformation, changing societal views on mobility and environmental stewardship.

Economic impact

"In 2020, COVID-19 brought a deep global recession that cut consumer spending, hurt industrial production, and up-ended normal business planning," say USTMA officials. 

"The collapse in travel for work, pleasure and shopping in 2020 drove demand for virtually all goods and services associated with travel down sharply.  As a result, spending on both new and used light vehicles fell by nearly a third, while spending on tires fared comparatively better, only falling 15% from February to April, while total consumer spending slumped nearly 19%.

"As our momentum accelerates coming out of a turbulent year, our members advocate and innovate to adapt to a new normal,' protecting the nearly 100,000 tire manufacturing workers employed across 17 states.

"From securing our position as an essential industry at the onset of the pandemic to sustaining and creating new jobs and supporting vaccination efforts, we remain focused on restoring and reinvigorating our workforce and the tire manufacturing industry."

Digital transformation

"Our members continue to partner and invest in research and development to support digital transformation, improve efficiencies and bring innovative and safe products to market."

Changing views on mobility

"COVID-19 has disrupted social mobility preferences and accelerated existing societal shifts in mobility.

"Early on during the pandemic, millennials were adopting more classic Gen-X behavior, including a growing affinity for suburban living where driving rates are higher, after facing restricted mobility due to lockdowns.

"At the same time, the dramatic drop seen in commuting patterns, greater reliance on e-commerce and demand for last-mile delivery services will remain significant factors in shaping mobility—even after a full vaccine roll out."

Environmental stewardship

"USTMA members are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout a tire's lifecycle."

This includes manufacturing low rolling resistance tires, developing tire materials with low carbon footprints and other efforts.

Luke says USTMA members' "experience navigating the impacts of the pandemic reaffirmed that tire manufacturing is a resilient and essential industry driving the economic engine of the United States."