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RMA: US tire demand to increase 1.5% in 2013

The Rubber Manufacturers Association released its latest figures for its Tire Market Analysis Committee report on the US tire market on Friday. The organization indicated that US tire shipments remained unchanged in 2012 at 284 million total units, as a 10 percent increase in OE shipments offset a nearly 2 percent decrease in replacement shipments. The sluggishness is attributable to cautious consumers as well as economic uncertainties in both the commercial and consumer sectors of the replacement market. Nonetheless, the RMA points to some promising signs, including lower unemployment, a rebound in housing, and increases in vehicle sales and vehicle miles traveled. These and other macroeconomic factors should result in approximately 288 million total tire shipments in 2013, an increase of approximately 4 million units or nearly 1.5 percent.

RMA data and forecasts for specific segments are as follows:

Original Equipment (OE) Passenger Tires: Passenger OE tire shipments increased by 12.1 percent to 40 million units in 2012, a 4.3 million unit improvement. This reflects the 1.7 million unit increase in light vehicle sales for 2012, reaching approximately 14.4 million light vehicles. For 2013, light vehicle sales are anticipated to increase another 4.2 percent and crest the 15 million unit mark. As such, 2013 OE passenger shipments are expected to increase more than 6 percent or approximately 2.7 million units.

Original Equipment Light Truck (LT) Tires: Light truck OE tires increased 1.5 percent in 2012 to 4.3 million units as domestic vehicle production using LT tires experienced a marginal increase due to soft economic conditions in this sector. This category is forecast to grow by nearly 100,000 units in 2013, or approximately 3 percent.

Original Equipment Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: A increase in demand for commercial trucks and trailers in 2012 boosted commercial OE tire shipments by 2.6 percent, reaching approximately 5.1 million units. However, demand for new trucks is expected to level off in 2013 and little or no change in the total OE tire units is anticipated.

Replacement Passenger Tire: 2012 shipments decreased by 3.5 million units, or 1.8 percent, to 190.9 million units as anticipated demand failed to materialize due to continued soft economic conditions and cautious consumers. For 2013, improving economic conditions, positive signs of jobs added, and growth in vehicle miles traveled will be tempered by spending pressure on consumers. As a result passenger replacement shipments are forecast to increase by a modest 1 million units.

Replacement Light Truck Tire: Total 2012 LT replacement shipments was 28.1 million units, a decrease of approximately 500,000 units, or 1.9 percent. A nearly 1 percent growth is forecast for 2013 given the slowly improving economy and signs of improvement in the housing market.

Replacement Medium/Wide-Base/Heavy On-Highway Commercial Truck Tires: For 2012, this market declined by 4 percent, or 700,000 units, to 15.8 million units as fleets opt for new equipment and the economy remained sluggish. No increase is forecast for 2013 owing to a sluggish commercial sector.

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