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Certain Vehicle Colors Are Suspended Due To Shortage

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On: Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 7:18PM | By: Chris Weiss

Certain Vehicle Colors Are Suspended Due To Shortage

The massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this month has been an ongoing story that will likely continue to unfold for weeks to come. In addition to the deaths, injury, and turmoil within Japan, the events have taken a huge toll on business and industry. The global auto industry will be deeply affected by parts shortages and production slowdowns for months to come. Japanese automakers have had to shut down operations, and automakers in other countries have been similarly affected. The U.S. market has already started to feel the effects of decreased auto supply and increased pricing. 

One interesting subplot to come out of the greater story is the shortage of certain auto colors. Several automakers have had to halt production on specific colored models due to a shortage of a pigment called Xirallic. The pigment is made by a Japanese plant that is located near the damaged nuclear reactor.

Owned by German company Merck Group, the plant was forced to shut down production due to leaking radiation at the nearby damaged power plant. It may not get production back up and running for another month or two.

The pigment shortage is affecting automakers like Chrysler, Ford, and Toyota. Ford restricted dealer orders of vehicles in Tuxedo Black and three different shades of red—Royal Red, Red Candy, and Red Fire, while Chrysler suspended orders on 10 different colors. The Xirillac pigment gives auto paint a sparkling appearance.

While not a major problem in and of itself, the pigment shortage is a microcosm of the greater issues in Japan. Automakers in Japan and other countries have been forced to shut down production, due largely to a shortage of parts from manufacturers near the zone most affected by the earthquake.

While Nissan and Toyota announced limited production plans last week, Honda will continue stoppages through April 3. And even as automakers resume production, power outages and parts shortages are expected to decrease their capabilities, meaning limited production and ongoing stoppages.

Last week, the Japanese events officially reached the U.S. when GM stopped the operations of a plant in Louisiana and certain operations in Buffalo, New York due directly and indirectly to parts shortages. It's unknown when those operations will resume.

According to the Detroit News, IHS Automotive chief forecaster Michael Robinet predicts global vehicle production may drop by 15 to 35 percent as a direct result of ongoing problems in Japan.


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