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Color Me at a Loss – Japan Crisis Leaves Ford Short of Paint

Maker curbing orders for several popular shades.

by on Mar.25, 2011

Ford will not take orders for three shades of red, and for Tuxedo Black, on a number of models, including Fiesta.

Automakers are facing increasingly problems due to the natural disaster that struck Japan two weeks ago, resulting in damage to a yet-unknown number of Japanese automotive parts plants.  But while some makers are already curbing production due to shortages of electronic engine controllers, plastic parts and rubber products, Ford Motor Co. is telling its dealers it won’t be able to take orders for some of its most popular car colors.

Blame a shortage of pigments specifically produced in the Northeast of Japan – where the quake and subsequent tsunami did the most damage.  The maker says it is running out of the necessary ingredients for Tuxedo Black and three different shades of red.

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That will force customers to either wait or shift to alternate colors for a variety of models including the Ford Explorer, Taurus, F-150, Fiesta and Expedition, as well as the Lincoln Navigator and MKZ, according to the automaker.

The maker says it has enough of the pigments on hand for current orders but doesn’t want to keep new buyers waiting should its Japanese supplier not be able to get back up and running anytime soon.  In the meantime, said a spokesman, “We’re working to find alternative suppliers.”

Ford is just the latest in a growing list of automakers feeling the pinch of the crisis in Japan.

General Motors’ Shreveport, Louisiana assembly plant has been idled all this week due to an unspecified parts shortage – which resulted in cutbacks at an engine plant in New York, as well.  The maker will also be curbing production at two European small car plants.

Only a handful of Japanese assembly plants are yet operating in the wake of the March 11 disaster.  But the impact is spreading to their factories – and dealerships – elsewhere.

Subaru and Toyota have curbed overtime production in the U.S.  Toyota has already delayed the Japanese launch of the Prius V hybrid microvan and has yet to determine if it can move ahead with the planned introduction scheduled for late Summer in the U.S.

Honda, which is still operating at normal capacity, is reported to be looking at shortages that could soon impact the planned U.S. launch of its new Civic model.  The maker temporarily stopped taking orders for Japanese-made products that were scheduled to roll down the assembly line in May.

Honda’s technical center, in hard-hit Tochigi, will likely be out of commission for months – which could delay future product development.  (Click Here for more.)

Nissan continues trying to re-establish its supplier base but has determined its Iwaki engine plant will be at least partially disabled and may need to start exporting engines from a Tennessee plant for use on Japanese assembly lines.

Meanwhile, analysts are now cautioning that the Japanese crisis could complete re-order the global automotive market and even lead to the loss of millions of units of production originally scheduled for 2011.  (For that story, Click Here.)

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3 Responses to “Color Me at a Loss – Japan Crisis Leaves Ford Short of Paint”

  1. Tatersalad says:

    Being short on paint is a short term problem. Ford will be selected by the UAW goons (Bob King) for contract extortion and take these gains to GM & Chrysler under the pattern agreement. Since Barack Obama has his cronies in place at GM and owns 33% of the company, Ford has a problem. Ford needs to stock up on parts for a 6 month strike or “slow-downs”. mGM/Chrysler will loose customers if the UAW thinks that they are going to play “hardball” with their strike clause stricken from the contract and use slow-downs.

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