Closure of pigment plant limits certain colour cars

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The shortage of a specialty pigment that gives cars a glittering shine has prompted some car makers to temporarily restrict orders on vehicles in certain shades of black, red and other colours.

Major car makers, including Chrysler, Toyota, General Motors and Ford, use the pigment, called Xirallic, produced at only one factory in the world – the Onahama plant near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

The plant is operated by German chemical company Merck and has been evacuated. Merck spokesman Gangolf Schrimpf said the company did not know when it would be permitted to reopen the plant.

Chrysler told dealers it was restricting orders on vehicles in 10 colours, including two variations of black and three of red. Ford is slowing production of vehicles in “tuxedo black” and three variations of red. Chrysler spokeswoman Katie Hepler called it a “precautionary measure” and said the company did not expect any effect on production at this time. Other colours being restricted were Bronze Star, Rugged Brown, Hunter Green, Ivory, and Billet Silver.

Ford dealers will not be able to order black Expeditions, Navigators, F-150 pickup trucks and its Super Duty pick-up, Ford said. Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said as far as he knew it had not restricted orders. – Reuters

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