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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:57

Parts, Paint Shortages Mounting After Japanese Disasters, Interrupting Some Production for all Automakers

Both international and domestic automakers have begun to feel the sting of a shortage of parts and paint components from factories in Japan.

No Japanese automaker is planning to return to full production soon.

Most Toyota plants will stay offline for weeks. Toyota announced they will stop ordering parts made in Japan as of March 29. The bulk of the Toyota and Lexus assembly plants will remain suspended at least until April 14, after a Reuters report saying they would be down until April 11. Only the Prius and Lexas hybrid production lines appear to be functioning normally. The rest of Toyota's 18 domestic assembly plants remain closed indefinitely.

MSNBC reported that Toyota is asking its US car dealers to stop order for 233 replacement parts made in Japan because the company is worried about running out of them. Toyota told dealers they can’t order 233 parts for Lexus, Scion, and Toyota models unless a customer already needs one for a repair. The company said its parts inventory is adequate even though many parts factories damaged in quake. Restricted orders of some components made at more severely damaged plants to make sure they remain available.

About 70% of Toyota cars and trucks sold in US are built in North America, and 3 out of 4 parts in those vehicles come from factories in region.


Honda also faced a parts shortage according to the Detroit News Bureau; the company is struggling through the effects of disasters in Japan that have so far shut down its Japanese operations for nearly 3 weeks.

Honda's latest problem is recall of 2.8K Odyssey minivans because of defect that can result in front windows coming off their tracks, making them inoperable.

It’s 2nd recall of latest-generation Honda van in just 2 weeks, following callback of 33K Odysseys due to faulty windshield wipers and getting the replacement parts for these vehicles may be challenging for the automaker.

“I offer my prayers to all those who lost their lives in the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and its ensuing aftermath, as well as my sympathy to the survivors and their families. We believe that returning as quickly as possible to daily life can play an important part in bringing the hope of a better tomorrow at our plants, our team members once again working together, supporting each other and creating a positive atmosphere and, at our dealerships, warm and friendly staff once again welcoming customers. We at Toyota will continue doing all we can to be of assistance to the people affected,” said Toyota Motor Corp. president Akio Toyoda.

The Detroit News also reported that automakers may run out of some paint colors because of a shortage of supplies of a pigment made at a factory near a damaged nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.

Chrysler Group told dealers that it was temporarily restricting orders of vehicles in 10 colors. Chrysler has restricted dealers from ordering vehicles in 10 paint colors (brilliant black, blackberry, deep cherry red, redline, inferno red, bronze star, rugged brown, hunter green, ivory and billet metallic) which are produced at factory in Japan.

Ford Motor Co. also alerted dealers to stop ordering vehicles in tuxedo black and three shades of red.

Toyota Motor Corp. also will be affected by the shortage of the pigment, called Xirallic (Zir-A-lik), which gives colors a vibrant, sparkling quality.

The German pigment manufacturer Merck Group confirmed that the Onahama plant that makes Xirallic had halted production because it was in the exclusion zone around the damaged Fukujima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex.

Gangolf Schrimpf, a spokesman for Merck, said that once engineers can get inside the Onahama factory, the company believes production can be restarted in four to eight weeks.

Chrysler and Ford said the pigment shortage would not affect vehicle production levels.

"We anticipate that we currently have an adequate days' supply to meet existing customer orders and are taking this step as a precautionary measure," said Chrysler spokeswoman Katie Hepler.

Automakers are struggling daily with unexpected disruptions of parts made in Japan. Most car companies do not know the origin of all the 20,000 to 30,000 components that go into every vehicle.

The unpredictability of where disruptions are likely to occur was shown this week when Paris-based PSA Peugeot Citroën, a regional carmaker, idled some production, said John Lawson, a London-based analyst at Citi Investment Research & Analysis. The Peugeot group was running low on air flow sensors for diesel engines made by Hitachi Automotive Systems.

Michael Robinet, chief forecaster at IHS Automotive, said March 24 that a prolonged disruption of supplies of Japanese components could halt global vehicle output by between 15 percent and 35 percent.

The worst-case scenario assumes a 12-week disruption in supplies that would reach far beyond Japan's auto sector, leading to lost production of 5 million light vehicles worldwide.

"They will restart, but it doesn't mean they'll be running at a full rate" said Jeff Schuster, auto sales forecaster at J.D. Power and Associates.

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