By Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff
National chains gained market share last year at the expense of local dealerships and tyre company stores, according to RMA data.
(Tire Business graphic by Scott Merryweather)
AKRON (Feb. 10, 2012) - The North American tyre market continues to evolve toward greater concentration in the distribution sector, toward greater size proliferation and increased penetration of both imports and high-performance tyres.
These are a few of the trends gleaned from statistics presented in Tire Business' 23rd annual â€œMarket Data Book,â€ which appears in the publication's Feb. 13 edition.
The Market Data Book is Tire Business' annual summary of statistics and trends compiled from our own research along with data from the relevant trade associations: Rubber Manufacturers Association, Rubber Assocation of Canada, Automotive Service Association, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, several U.S. government agencies, as well as other sources.
Among other trends seen in this year's Market Data Book are:
Local dealerships - defined by the RMA as those with fewer than 10 outlets in a single distribution area - lost ground last year, losing a point of passenger tyre market share to national chains, which gained two points of share by also taking share from the tyre makers' captive retail chains.
Local dealerships now control 22 percent of replacement tyre shipments and regional dealerships - those with 10 or more outlets participating in at least two regions - accounting for 11 percent. National chains' share rose to one-third.
Local dealerships held ground at 31 percent share when it comes to light truck tyres, the RMA data show. Regional and national dealership chains each picked up a point of share, to 14 and 34 percent, respectively, taking share from the tyre company chains and general merchandise distributors.
U.S. passenger tyre production dropped 2.7 percent to 131.2 million units, whereas light truck tyre production rose 9.3 percent to 26.1 percent and medium truck/bus tyre output jumped 15.3 percent to 14.2 million units.
Imports shadowed overall market trend, according to preliminary data, with passenger and light truck tyre imports rising slightly and medium truck tyre imports jumping nearly 20 percent over 2010.
Winter tyre shipments edged up about 700,000 units, or 8 percent, to represent 4.9 percent of replacement tyre shipments, the RMA data show. Shipments of all-season tyres dropped more than 5 million units, or roughly 3.5 percent, and accounted for 72.5 percent of aftermarket shipments.
Performance tyres claimed 29.2 percent of the aftermarket, up from 27.8 percent in 2010, with shipments of V-rated tyres up almost 10 percent and those of Z-rated tyres rising nearly 5 percent. Performance tyres have gained share for seven consecutive years.
Size proliferation continues. The 10 most prevalent passenger tyre sizes in the aftermarket accounted for 22.5 percent of industry shipments last year, the RMA data show, down from 23.6 percent in 2010 and 24.6 percent in 2009.
Among the top 10 sizes last year were two new ones: 225/60R16 and 195/60R15. The most popular sizes were P235/75R15 and P225/60R16, which tied at No. 1 with 3-percent market share.
The RMA's data show manufacturers' flag brands firmed their share dominance in both passenger and light truck tyres, with private brands accounting for just 9 percent of those segments.
Tire Business' independent analysis of the market shows import brands - those belonging to foreign-based manufacturers that have no manufacturing capacity in North America - account for about 22 percent of the passenger tyre market and 17 percent of the light truck tyre segment.
Among individual brands, there was relatively little movement of brands in a down year for passenger tyre shipments. One notable change: the Bridgestone brand moved ahead of the Firestone brand.
On the OE side, Goodyear's declaration a while back that it was going to be more selective with its OE acounts translated into a slightly lower overall share of the North American OE business, dropping to about 29 percent.
New to the OE fraternity is Nexen Tire America Inc., which is supplying Hyundai-Kia Motor Corp. with tyres for the Kia Optima. The emergence of Nexen as an OE supplier brings to nine the number of companies supplying North American vehicle assembly plants, although the four major tyre makers - Goodyear, Michelin North America Inc., Bridgestone Americas and Continental Tire the Americas - control nearly 90 percent of the market.
The 10 most prevalant OE tyre sizes accounted for 36.3 percent of shipments last year, up slightly from 2010, but there were three new sizes, including the second 18-inch fitment, among the top 10: P235/65R17, P205/65R16 and P265/60R18.
Reflecting the speed at which tyre size popularity changes, only two of the 10 most prevalent replacement tyre sizes - P215/60R16 and P265/70R17 - are among the 10 top OE sizes, although those two sizes are Nos. 1 and 2 on the OE list, accounting for more than 14 percent of 2011 fitments.
North of the border, Canadian aftermarket demand for passenger tyres slipped by about 3 percent last year, according to the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC), but the decline was offset by increased shipments of light truck and SUV tyres.
Overall shipments in the category were essentially unchanged at 18.6 million units, the RAC said.
Replacement market demand for winter tyres softened somewhat last year, as shipments slipped 1.2 percent. Despite the drop, winter tyres account for nearly 38 percent of light vehicle tyres sold in the aftermarket, the RAC said.
The ultra-high-performance tyre segment grew 6.1 percent last year, offsetting the continuing decline in broad market tyres, which lost 6.8 percent.
The commercial truck replacement market increased 9.4 percent in 2011, but the RAC did not disclose the unit shipment number.
From Tire Business Rubber & Plastics News Automotive News (A Crain publication)