WASHINGTON – Tire shipments are projected to drop more than 7 percent in 2009 following a nearly 9 percent drop in 2008, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

Total 2009 tire shipments are projected to decline approximately 21 million units to 261 million, a level last experienced in 1993 and approximately 60 million units fewer than the 321 million unit peak in 2000, reported the RMA.

The decrease in tire shipments reflects the continued erosion of consumer confidence, higher unemployment, depressed auto sales, a decline in vehicle miles traveled, and downward revisions in domestic economic conditions for both the consumer and commercial sectors, according to the RMA.

A turnaround is projected to begin in 2010, in line with economic forecasts, where the industry is expected to realize a modest recovery nearing the 270-million unit level.

Details about RMA's Tire Market Analysis Committee forecast for key categories and their respective segments for 2008 are available at www.rma.org.