Washington, DC --Overall tyre shipments in the US will rise 2.2 percent in 2005, based on steady economic growth in the consumer and commercial sectors, the Rubber Manufacturers Association said.
As long as motorists don't change their driving behaviour because of rising gasoline costs, steady growth in tyre shipments should continue over the next 18 months, the association said.
In 2005, combined original equipment and replacement shipments for auto and truck categories are expected to increase by 7 million units, or 2.2 percent, to 325 million units. The RMA also anticipates growth of greater than 2 percent for 2006 for total tyre shipments.
The RMA also made the following forecasts for specific segments:
* OE passenger tyres: Demand is expected to decline 0.4 percent to 53 million units in 2005, reflecting a decrease in production of light trucks and sport-utility vehicles with P-metric tyres. A 1-percent increase is expected in 2006 on a modest increase in light vehicle sales and production.
* OE light truck tyres: A decline of 2.5 percent in 2005 to 7.7 million units is forecast as consumers move to smaller crossover vehicles, followed by a 1-percent increase in 2006 on growth in the commercial sector.
* OE medium/wide-base truck tyres: This segment should see greater than 13-percent growth in 2005 shipments to 6.5 million units, followed by slightly less than 5 percent growth in 2006.
* Replacement passenger tyres: The RMA expects an increase of 2.8 percent to more than 204 million units in 2005, primarily on P-metric, high and ultra-high performance markets, increasing 13.6, 5 and 13 percent, respectively. Similar growth is expected next year.
* Replacement light truck tyres: The segment will increase by 1.4 percent to 37 million units in 2005 and another 2.4-percent growth in 2006.
* Replacement medium/wide-base truck tyres: This market should grow to 16.9 million units in 2005, followed by growth of just over 2 percent for 2006.