Some drivers may notice they are paying more for tires and it may simply be because the vehicle they are driving has bigger wheels. A new set of trade tariffs threatens to raise prices as well.
The rise of the sport utility vehicle in America has also led to the rise of the SUV tire, which is often more expensive than a tire for the smaller wheels found in passenger cars such as sedans in the past.
A 2019 survey by Consumer Reports found that the middle customer spent $ 137 on a tire for a sedan, coupe, hatchback, or minivan, excluding the installation costs. The price of an SUV tire was $ 162. Pickup trucks were even more expensive at $ 175.
Different forces have had different influences on tires and their pricing. A small but significant segment of consumers buy tires online – and retailers like Amazon may have had a “modest” impact on tire sales, according to Northcoast Research analyst John Healy.
At the same time, the trend towards sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and wheels with even larger diameters for sedans and sports cars is favorable for premium large tire manufacturers with premium brand names such as Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone.
Another disruptive tire market share is the emerging tariffs in four Southeast Asian countries, which have a disproportionately high impact on cheaper tire brands, prefer domestic American ones and could increase prices.
“The recently determined tariffs affect almost 30% of the total US consumer tire market and at an average tariff rate of 30%,” said Keybanc analyst James Picariello. “So we’re talking about a significant impact that won’t go away.”