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RMA: "Weak economy hurts 2001 tire shipments."

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Combined passenger and truck tire original equipment and replacement shipments for 2001 will total 303.1 million units, a 17.9 million or 5.6% drop from last year's record-setting 321 million shipments, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

The RMA's predicted shipment drops per category for the year are as follows:

Passenger tires, original equipment, will decrease by 11.2%;

Passenger tires, replacement, will drop by 2.5%;

Light truck tires, original equipment, will decline 7.8%;

Light truck tires, replacement, will fall 6.7%;

Medium truck tires, original equipment, will plummet 32%;

Medium truck tires, replacement, will decrease by 10.2%.

"Tire markets with projected positive growth rates for 2001 and beyond will be the H-, V- and Z-rated and cosmetic performance-rated passenger replacement tires," says RMA President and CEO Donald Shea.

The RMA predicts a "modest rebound" next year, with "stronger growth forecasted for 2003 as the nation's Gross Domestic Product picks up momentum."

The Washington, D.C.-based organization says total shipments in 2003 will reach the 317 million unit mark.

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