WASHINGTON (Dec. 6)—The tire industry is expected to take a significant downturn in tire shipments in all categories because of domestic economic weakness, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. The group said its Tire Market Analysis Committee projects there will be 20 million less passenger and commercial tires shipped in 2001 compared to 2000. Overall, combined auto and truck tire original equipment and replacement shipments are projected to decline by about 6.1 percent from 2000's record setting year of 321 million tires. Replacement tires for passenger cars, light trucks and commercial trucks also will experience moderate decreases ranging from about 3 to 9 percent. The group said the two markets that should experience positive growth in 2001 include "H/V/Z" speed-rated and P-metric replacement tires, increasing at 12.3 and 8 percent rates, respectively. Little to no growth is projected in 2002 as the economy starts a slow turnaround but a sharp 5.8-percent rebound for total shipments is forecasted in 2003, the RMA said.