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USTMA revises shipment forecast up for passenger tires, down for truck tires

Shipments of replacement passenger tires are expected to jump nearly 6% this year to a record 223.9 million units, according to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), in sharp contrast with earlier projections from the trade group.

In its March forecast for 2019, the USTMA projected replacement passenger tire shipments would drop 0.3% from a "historically strong" 2018.

The trade group — which represents a dozen tire makers with manufacturing capacity in the U.S. — provided no explanation for its changed forecast, which represents a swing of 6.4 million tires. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports total miles driven by U.S. vehicle owners is steadily rising, hitting an annualized rate of 3.24 trillion miles in May.At the same time the USTMA lowered its expectations for replacement market truck/bus tires by nearly a million units, forecasting an 11% drop in shipments this year to 19.4 million units. In March, the group said it expected truck/bus tire shipments to drop 6.4%, or 1.5 million units.

Again, the Washington-based group provided no guidance for the change. Elevated import duties on truck tires from China are thought to be a key reason for the reduced forecast.

Overall, the USTMA is projecting 2019 U.S. tire shipments will increase 0.8% to to 332.9 million units, as the increased replacement passenger tire demand will offset the lower truck/bus replacement tire shipments as well as lower original equipment passenger tire shipments.

This projection also is a reversal of the March forecast.

By market sector, the group's shipment forecasts are:

  • Replacement passenger tires — up 2.6% to 223.6 million units;
  • Replacement light truck tires — up 1% to 32 million units;
  • Replacement medium truck/bus tires — down 11% to 19.4 million units;
  • OE passenger tires — down 3.9% to 45.2 million units;
  • OE light truck tires — up 6.3% to 6 million units;
  • OE medium truck/bus tires — up 3.7% to 6.7 million units;

While the USTMA provided no guidance for its revised forecast, sales of new light vehicles (cars, SUVs/CUVs, light trucks, etc.) appear headed for a decline this year to about 16.5 million to 16.7 million, or below 17 million for the first time since 2014.

In addition, ACT Research reported recently that orders for new Class 8 trucks fell to 10,200 units in July, the lowest monthly order tally since February 2010.

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