Consumer and commercial tire shipments will grow less than 1 percent in 2002 due to a slower-than-expected rebound in the U.S. economy, the Rubber Manufacturers Association said. Combined shipments of original-equipment tires and replacement tires for autos and trucks are expected to rise by only 2.7 million units this year, from the estimated 300 million shipped in 2001, according to a report by trade group's Tire Market Analysis Committee.But the report said a strong rebound seems likely in 2003 as the economy begins to recover, with further growth forecast for 2004. Total tire shipments should expand by nearly 15 million units in 2003 and increase by another 15 million units in 2004 to break the 330 million-unit mark, the report said. The Rubber Manufacturers Association, founded in 1915, is the national trade association of the U.S. rubber industry. Its membership includes more than 100 companies that make tires and other rubber products.The organization's Tire Market Analysis Committee is comprised of analysts representing the major U.S. tire manufacturers, which collectively account for over 90 percent of all U.S. tire shipments.Tires use both natural and synthetic rubber. Most, if not all, of the natural rubber used in the industry comes from leading producers Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.