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Color Me Relieved: Japanese Paint Plant Back Online

Loss of pigments colored what paint choices American buyers were offered.

by on May.10, 2011

Ford will soon be able to offer the Harley-Davidson F-150 in its signature Tuxedo Black again.

The automotive world is about to become a little more colorful thanks to the resumption of production at a plant in Onahama, Japan that produces some key paint pigments used by automakers around the world.

The plant, owned by the chemical giant Merck, is the only source for some key ingredients required to make such popular hues as Ford’s Tuxedo Black, a high-glass metallic hue offered on a variety of the maker’s products.  Production was halted on March 11, when Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, followed by a crisis at a key nuclear power plant that has left the island nation struggling for electricity.

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As a result of the shortage of Merck’s Xirallic pigment, Ford, Toyota and a number of other automakers around the world were forced to either stop taking orders for colors like Tuxedo Black or offer customers some alternatives.


Any Car as Long as it is Not Black…

Automakers face a pigment panic.

by on Mar.29, 2011

Ford is running out of some of the more popular colors for products like the new Fiesta.

Nearly a century ago, automotive pioneer Henry Ford was fond of telling customers they could order a car “in any color, as long as it’s black.”  Right now, his great-grandson William Clay Ford, Jr. has to tell buyers they can order a new Ford in almost any color as long as it is not Tuxedo Black…or several shades of red.

The Japanese disaster trifecta that was touched off by a massive earthquake – then followed by a tsunami and a partial nuclear meltdown – damaged scores of parts plants and put production by most major Japanese automakers temporarily on hold.  (Click Here for more.) Not only are conventional car parts, like engines, plastic panels and electronic chips gone into short supply but now it appears the world’s automakers could be facing a serious pigment panic.

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Nearly three weeks after the earth first shook, a key plant in northeast Japan run by chemical company Merck is still down and a spokeswoman for the German company says it could be as much as two months more before the facility is back in operation.

“For both the timing of the repair start and for its timely completion, we are dependent upon the availability of infrastructure and utilities, as well as upon developments at the Fukushima power plant,” Merck’s Phyllis Carter told the Associated Press.


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.”