WASHINGTON (Sept. 25)—U.S. replacement market shipments of passenger tires will fall 2.6 percent this year, to about 186 million units, but increased demand for light truck tires is offsetting at least part of the decline, according to the latest Rubber Manufacturers Association forecast. The RMA attributes the replacement market drop of about 5 million units in large part to the "pull forward" effect of the Firestone recall and Ford Motor Co. replacement programs of 2000-2001 cannibalizing potential shipments during 2002. At the same time, though, the RMA said shipments of light truck tires to the replacement market should grow 8 percent—or about 2.5 million units—to 34 million units as both the sport-utility vehicle and light truck markets mature and light truck tires are viewed as an alternative replacement for P-metric tires. Overall, shipments of passenger/light truck and commercial tires will grow less than 1 percent this year because of a slower-than-expected rebound in the U.S. economy, but demand is expected to pick up next year by as much as 4 percent, according to the RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee.