Study: Tire Sales Show Growing Desire For Larger Vehicles

The NPD Group, in an analysis of tire sales data, reports that there’s a growing desire in the United States for trucks, SUVs and CUVs. Larger tires (defined as those with 17-inch and larger rim diameters) have gained nearly 12 unit share points over the last three years, according to retail sales data from NPD.

Larger tires now account for almost half of all passenger car and light-truck units sold across the United States, the group’s research indicates.

“We’re seeing a greater number of bigger vehicles on the road today and in manufacturers’ new lineups. Sedan sales have slowed dramatically over the last few years, as SUVs and CUVs are growing in popularity,” said Nathan Shipley, automotive industry analyst at NPD. “Larger-rim-diameter tires are performing well as a result of this shift.

“The fundamentals of the automotive industry couldn’t be stronger,” Shipley added. “Miles driven annually is currently at its highest level. More drivers and vehicles are on the road than ever before. And, the unemployment rate has been trending at historical lows, meaning consumers are driving to work. All of these things point to a very healthy automotive industry, which includes the tires business.”

According to NPD’s Retail Tire Tracking Service, U.S. replacement tire sales have increased 3% over the past year. and unit sales have grown even faster, up 4.5%. Passenger car and light-truck tires make up the largest segment of the U.S. market with unit sales in this segment up 4% year-over-year.