Almost all signs through the first and second quarters of 2012 point to a strong domestic truck tire market throughout the year. That is true for both the replacement and original equipment levels,
according to Modern Tire Dealer magazine.

In its 2012 outlook, released in March, the Rubber Manufacturers Association predicted replacement truck tire shipments will be up 2% this year compared to last year, or 400,000 units. It also predicted original equipment shipments to be up close to 12% this year.

Last year, the RMA says OE shipments increased by approximately 1.7 million units, reflecting pent-up demand for commercial trucks and trailers concurrent with a 4.1% increase in the Industrial Production Index.

Whether that prediction will stand remains to be seen. Commercial vehicle orders were healthy in January and February, but they have since softened. North American Class 8 commercial vehicle preliminary net orders for June remained soft, according to two major industry research firms. Net orders for Classes 5-7 also fell below trend, but the decline was expected, as medium-duty activity typically tapers off during the summer months.

Market Share

Near the halfway point in the year, MTD reports that when it comes to replacement-tire market share, the "Big Three" brands remain:
1. Michelin
2. Bridgestone
3. Goodyear

However, Bridgestone Americas is more dominant if you combine the market share of its Bridgestone and FIrestone brands, followed by Michelin and Goodyear.

Two brands to watch are Continental and Yokohama. At the end of 2011, Continental Tire the Americas and Yokohama Tire Corp. officially severed their ties with Toyo Tire Holdings of America Inc. in the GTY joint venture facility in Mount Vernon, Ill. That gives Continental and Yokohama another 280,000 tires to split between themselves.

Also, Continental, which introduced its ContiTread retread products in 2009, signed its first ContiTread licensee in the U.S. last September.