Tire shipments in 2012 are projected to increase by roughly 1.2 percent, or less than 3 million units, to 288 million units, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). The modest growth can be attributed to an increase in new vehicle sales and a slight increase in vehicle miles traveled.
OE tire shipments for both the light-vehicle and commercial-truck markets are forecast to increase 16 percent, while growth in replacement tire shipments is expected to drop by 2 percent.
More specifically, RMA projects that replacement passenger tire shipments in 2012 will decrease by 2 million units, or nearly 1 percent, to 192 million units as pent-up demand has failed to materialize. This is attributed to softer economic conditions than previously forecasted. However, vehicle miles travelled for 2012 has increased, in part because of a mild winter. As a result, an uptick in replacement shipments is expected in the second half of the year.
Replacement light-truck tire shipments are forecast to decrease by approximately 900,000 units, or 3 percent, to 28 million units. RMA attributes the drop to new light-truck vehicle sales decreasing demand for replacement tires. However, the decline should moderate because of anticipated stronger second-half growth in 2012 given soft market conditions in the latter part of 2011.
Replacement medium, wide-base and heavy on-highway commercial truck tires shipments are expected to decline by roughly 6 percent, or 1 million units, to 15.5 million units as fleets opt for new equipment and the economy remains sluggish.