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Published on March 30th, 2011 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Paint Pigment from Japan may cause global automakers to lose 600,000 vehicles

Global automakers may lose production of 600,000 vehicles by the end of the month as the earthquake in Japan halts assembly lines and work at suppliers including the German maker of a key paint pigment. About 320,000 vehicles may have been lost worldwide as of March 24, and global manufacturing may be affected when parts supplies start running out as soon as early April.

Merck KGaA has lost production of a metallic automotive paint pigment called Xirallic because its factory is 28 miles from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant that was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami. Merck doesn’t know when company engineers will be able re-enter the Onahama factory, and it will take four to eight weeks to resume output after they gain access.
Chrysler is restricting U.S. dealers’ orders on 10 vehicle colors because of the potential for a shortage, Katie Hepler, a spokeswoman, said yesterday in an e-mail. The colors include blacks, such as Blackberry Pearl, and reds, such as Inferno.
Ford told dealers on March 24th 2011 to stop taking orders for vehicles painted in tuxedo black and three red shades. Silver was the most popular automobile color last year, Pittsburgh-based PPG Paints Inc., said in October. Silver, gray and charcoal accounted for 31 percent of vehicle-paint choices in North America, up from 20 percent in 2008. Black and white tied for second, with 18 percent each. Red was next at 11 percent, said PPG, which makes auto paint.


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