WASHINGTON (Aug.21)—Tire industry projections for 2001 consumer and commercial tire shipments have been revised down due to a weaker than expected domestic economy, according to a forecast by the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Overall, combined auto and truck tire original equipment and replacement shipments are predicted to decrease by 17 million units or 5.6 percent compared with 2000's record setting year of 321 million total units shipped. Most of the losses will come on the OE side, the RMA said, with passenger, light truck and medium truck OE tire shipments projected to show double-digit percentage drops. Replacement tires those sectors will experience only slight to moderate decreases. Declines in the passenger replacement markets will be offset by growth in the speed rated performance market and increases in the P-Metric light truck tire market resulting from the Ford Motor Co.´s 13 million tire replacement campaign. The group predicts a rebound by 2003 when total shipments are expected to reach about 317 million units, or experience a 2.2-percent annual growth rate based on 2001 figures. Positive growth was projected for the "H/V/Z" speed-rated and the cosmetic performance-rated passenger replacement tires growing at a forecasted 7.2 percent and 3.0 percent annual rate, respectively, through 2003.