WASHINGTON—Tire demand is rebounding more robustly than projected earlier in all the key replacement and original equipment segments, prompting the Rubber Manufacturers Association to revise upward its shipments forecast for 2010.
Led by a projected 38-percent increase in OE passenger tire demand, U.S. shipments overall should rise about 8 percent this year to 282 million units, or roughly what the industry shipped in 2008, the RMA said.
The increase in shipments “reflects an economy re-emerging from the severe economic downturn coupled with the recent turnaround of the domestic automotive manufacturers and a return to established driving habits,” the RMA said. High unemployment, low confidence and continued depressed home values, however, continue to weigh on the consumer.
The latest forecast is a marked improvement over projections released in March, when the RMA anticipated 2010 shipments would increase about 3 percent from 2009 to a total of 267 million units.
On the replacement side, the RMA is forecasting growth of about 15 percent for medium and heavy truck tires to 15 million units as a result of the better-than-expected commercial sector recovery. Growth will slow next year to about 4 percent, or 600,000 units.
Replacement passenger tire shipments should rise more than 5 percent over the depressed 2009 total to 199 million units before slowing somewhat next year to a more modest 1 percent, the RMA said.