2011 Ford Mustang GT

In today's global economy, even something "imported from Detroit" may rely on components sourced from around the world. In the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, American businesses are experiencing some unexpected consequences.

Two major American automakers are now restricting orders for certain exterior colors as a direct result of the natural disaster in Japan.

Chrysler has issued a statement to their dealers saying that because of a shortage of pigment used to make their paints, they are going to limit the orders for cars in certain colors. The colors are Redline, Inferno, Brilliant Black, Deep Cherry, Blackberry, Hunter Green, Bronze Star, Rugged Brown, Ivory and Billet Metallic, according to USA Today.

Ford is also putting a hold on orders for four of their colors: Tuxedo Black, Royal Red, Red Fire and Red Candy. Ford has said it still has enough cars in stock to meet the demand for a while, but it has asked dealers not to take any new customer orders for cars in these colors.

Both companies rely on a special pigment called Xirallic to give these colors a glittery effect. Xirallic is currently produced in just one factory, located in Onahama, Fukushima, which is the same city where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is located. The city is in a coastal area, and was hit hard by the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are desperately trying to repair damage there and prevent a total meltdown. 

ABC Newshas reported that it could be four to eight weeks before the plant that makes the Xirallic pigment is back up and running again. In the meantime, US car shoppers with their hearts set on one of the affected colors from Ford or Chrysler should try to find a car now or be prepared to wait awhile. 

Japan is a major exporter of automotive components used around the globe, so the disaster and extended recovery there are likely to have unexpected ripple effects for some time.

author photo

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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