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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.