For all of you commercial truck tire dealers and manufacturers, remember the first quarter of 2017? No? I’m guessing that is the result of selective memory. It was pretty slow, and that is an understatement.
Market demand eventually picked up, resulting in a record high of 19.2 million replacement truck tires shipped in the U.S. That’s Modern Tire Dealer’s number. The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) predicts domestic replacement truck tire shipments will finish 2017 at 19.4 million units, a 4.3% increase over its then-record 18.6 million units shipped in 2016.
The turnaround in 2017 may have started last February when the International Trade Commission voted against imposing tariffs on truck and bus tires manufactured in China and imported into the U.S. The result was an instant increase in low-cost imports from China, which, despite the high demand, directly led to a 1.4% decrease in retreaded truck tires.
Together, however, new and retreaded truck tires topped the 33 million mark domestically.
Overseas players are taking notice. The Dec. 19, 2017, announcement by Triangle Tyre Co. Ltd. to build a new consumer tire plant in Edgecombe County, N.C., will lead to two plants built in two phases. The first will produce consumer tires.
The second, to be completed by 2023 will be a truck tire plant, to be built next to the first facility.
The company’s plan for phase two is not surprising. In March of last year, Triangle Tire USA hired Rick Phillips away from Yokohama Tire Corp. to be its vice president of sales. Phillips was instrumental in the building of Yokohama’s new commercial truck tire plant in West Point, Miss.
When Hankook Tire America Corp. held the grand opening of its consumer tire plant in Clarksville, Tenn., in October, future medium truck tire production was mentioned to me as a possibility by more than one Hankook employee (although Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. CEO Seung Hwa Suh said the company is not looking beyond the first two phases, which center on consumer tire production).
USTMA also estimates domestic original equipment truck tire shipments will be up 8% this year.
See the charts for commercial tires here.
Read the January Facts Issue here.
Editor's note: Robert Ulrich is the editor of Modern Tire Dealer, a sister publication of Work Truck.