The wheel industry continues to evolve and has for many years; the main story had been the substitution of aluminium for steel in many applications. This continues to be the case, but in recent years lighter materials have been gaining, though limited to certain niches on account of cost and other factors. Smithers Rapra’s latest report, The Future of Passenger, Commercial and Speciality Vehicle Wheels to 2022[https://www.smithersrapra.com/market-reports/tire-industry-market-reports/speciality-vehicle-wheels-to-2022] estimated the global wheel market at $81.7 billion in 2017, up from $64 billion in 2012 and anticipates a robust growth of 8.7% per year through to 2022, when the market will approach $124 billion.
The highly diverse global wheel industry as defined in this report is very broad and touches on almost every area of economic activity where ground transportation of people and goods is a factor. The market is mainly accounted for by the light vehicle segment, which consists of cars and light trucks mainly for passenger but also some commercial use. Throughout the historical and forecast period, its share is around 72%.
From the regional perspective, the distribution of the global market for wheels resembles trends that of vehicle production to some extent. Asia-Pacific is by far the dominant market; however, value growth in all regions through 2022 is expected to accelerate from the 2012–17 pace. This is supported by generally growing or recovering regional economies, and steady increases in raw material input prices (primarily steel and aluminium).
Compared to the tyre market, wheels has a much more fragmented and balanced industry structure. Manufacturers are somewhat segmented according to materials used and end-use segment served. A few larger companies are broadly active, but many specialise in one or two materials or end uses. The fast-emerging carbon fibre segment is an exception, and is so different that the companies are for now entirely separate and specialised. The companies producing passenger, commercial and speciality wheels are very diverse in terms of the mix of end uses, materials and regions served. Most companies are small, privately owned, and specialised, but several are large public companies operating in two or more end uses, and typically all regions. Even many of the smaller companies are global in reach. But very few are active across all the wheel types. Some of these have been growing by acquisition, a trend which should continue. Already, Superior Industries has acquired Uniwheels (March 2017). Earlier, Maxion acquired Hayes Lemmerz (2012) and Fumagalli (2009).
‘The Future of Passenger, Commercial and Speciality Vehicle Wheels to 2022’[https://www.smithersrapra.com/market-reports/tyre-industry-market-reports/speciality-vehicle-wheels-to-2022] takes a global view, in light of the diverse and interconnected supply chains that characterise the vehicle and wheel industries in every region. Perspectives from all lifecycle participants are taken into account, from raw material suppliers, to OEs, manufacturers, distributors and marketers, motorists and fleet managers, and government.