The global tire market
Depending on who you ask, China ranks as either the largest exporter of tires to the U.S., or the 5th largest. In a sense, they're both right. Both rankings tell part of the story about what's happening with the global tire production market. Here's how it breaks down.
The tire market is made up of original equipment, or OE tires (the ones that a manufacturer provides with a new vehicle), and replacement tires. When looking at the numbers, we can also categorize the market by passenger car tires, truck tires, and farm and other non-highway tires.
OE tire sales are obviously tied to vehicle production, so when vehicle production dropped 4% in 2017, OE tire production slid as well. This year, the U.S. tire industry expects to produce slightly more OE and replacement passenger tires and truck tires than it did in 2017.
The vast majority of tires sold in the U.S, however, are replacement tires - 209.3 million passenger tires and 50.7 million truck and bus tires in 2017.
Overall, the U.S. imports a little more than half of its tires. From a dollar perspective, China is the U.S.'s largest trading partner for tires, as the value of its overall exports to the U.S. jumped 28% to $1.95 billion one year after the value of its shipments to the U.S. declined by 2%. Some of the key manufacturers include ZC Rubber, Giti Tire, and Sentury.
But that's only part of the story. According to data from the U.S. Commerce Department, China held on to the top spot due to its exports of farm and other non-highway tires. China's exports of passenger and truck tires to the U.S. declined compared to 2016, due in part to import duties on consumer tires, and the shift of some manufacturing to other Asian countries where costs are lower.
If you look at volume, most of the tires imported in the U.S. come from APAC countries where the automotive industry is growing at a rapid rate compared to mature markets such as the U.S. and Western Europe. Thailand is the largest exporter of passenger tires to the U.S., shipping 30.1 million tires in 2017, a 26% increase over 2016. South Korea, Indonesia, and Mexico follow, with China ranking 5th.
In fact, imports of passenger tires from China fell 35% to 10.6 million tires. The one area where China still ranks number one in export volume to the U.S. is in truck and bus tires, even though their volume fell 15% to 6.49 million tires.
A growing number of tire companies, including manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, have been tracking their cargo on the Crux Systems platform in order to get better visibility into when they can expect their shipments.
If you're wondering when your shipment of tires is expected to arrive, try tracking your cargo on the Crux Systems platform. Sign up for for a free account and see how easy it is to get all the information you need about your shipments.