The Rubber Manufacturers Association (www.rma.org), Washington, D.C., forecasts an approximate 2 percent year-over-year increase in tire shipments for 2012. That’s nearly six million units, which brings total projected volume to 290 million units. And that’s better than 2011, which saw a 0.2 percent decrease, to 284 million units.
Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president for public affairs, attributes 2012’s small growth two things. First, a 26 percent year-over-year increase in gas prices that affected vehicle miles traveled. Second, several global natural disasters that affected vehicle builds and original-equipment shipments.
RMA is working to deliver uniform consumer information to help drivers get the best tire-related fuel efficiency, Zielinski says. “We are awaiting a proposed federal rule on this sometime later this year,” he says.
Other significant issues Zielinski mentions are improper tire repairs and unsafe used tires, both of which put consumers at risk. We have begun an initiative to explore state legislation on both of those topics,” he says.
Another important issue is ensuring that all tire makers selling tires in the U.S. fully comply with all regulations. While RMA members also import tires to the U.S., in addition to building them here, a number of other companies import tires and those imports have been expanding their share of the U.S. market,” Zielinski explains. “RMA has urged and continues to urge federal safety officials to help ensure that these companies’ tires comply with U.S. regulations.”
Zielinski notes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued two recalls of tires made by companies having no U.S. presence. Those tires didn’t fully comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards for tires, he said.