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RMA predicts 20 million-unit shipment drop this year

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There will be nearly 20 million fewer passenger and commercial tire units shipped in 2001 vs. 2000, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

Combined passenger and truck tire original equipment and replacement shipments will fall to 301 million units, a 6.1% drop from last year's estimated total of 321 million units, say RMA officials.

The Washington, D.C.-based association breaks each segment and its predictions down as follows:

* Passenger tires (OE). Shipments to domestic light vehicle manufacturers are expected to fall 9.4%; OE shipments are expected to total 54.4 million units.

* Passenger tires (replacement). Shipments are expected to fall 3.4% to 192 million units in 2001; they will decrease an extra 1.6% to 189 million units next year.

* Light truck tires (OE). A shipment decrease of 12.6% to 6.4 million units is predicted for 2001.

* Light truck tires (replacement). LT shipments at the replacement level are expected to drop 8.2% this year to 33 million units.

* Medium/wide-base truck tires (OE). This segment is expected to fall 38% in 2001 to 3.5 million units, a decrease of more than 2 million units from last year's levels.

* Medium/wide-base truck tires (replacement). Shipments are forecasted to decrease by 8.8% in 2001.

"Little or no growth is anticipated for 2002 as the economy begins a slow turn-around but a sharp 5.8% rebound is forecasted in 2003 as the total number of units shipped will be approximately 316 million - equal to 1999 figures."

The RMA reports that declines in passenger replacment shipments will be off-set by "solid growth" in the speed-rated performance market, plus increases in the P-metric light truck tire segment "resulting from closure of Ford Motor Co.'s 13 million-tire replacement campaign in May 2002."

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