JAPAN IMPACT: Pigment Shortage Hits Auto industry image

Automakers may run out of some paint colors because of a shortage of supplies of a pigment. Called Xirallic, the special pigment is used to get a slightly metallic look.

Problem is that Xirallic is produced at only one factory in the world — the Onahama plant near the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan.
Phyllis Carter. Onahama is located about 130 miles northeast of Tokyo and about 35 miles south of the stricken Fukashjima reactor. The Japanese government has told residents within about 20 miles of the reactor to evacuate.

Merck KGaA, sole producer of a paint pigment for automakers such as Ford Motor Co. (F), cannot operate its Japanese factory because it is too close to the nuclear reactor crippled by the earthquake and tsunami.

Merck’s Onahama factory, which produces the metallic paint pigment Xirallic, will take four to eight weeks to restart once company engineers can gain access to the facility, Gangolf Schrimpf, a company spokesman, said.
In the meantime, Chrysler Group LLC told dealers that it was temporarily restricting orders of vehicles in 10 colors.
Ford previously told its dealers it stopped taking orders for F-150 pick up trucks and other models in the color it calls “tuxedo black.” It is also limiting orders in three shades of red. More prissily, the colors in question are found on the Ford F-150 and Super Duty pickups, the Explorer, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport-utility vehicles and the Taurus, Focus and Lincoln MKS sedans, Todd Nissen, a spokesman, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said the company uses the pigment, but as far as he knew it had not restricted orders.

DuPont’s annual color survey recently found North American’s prefer black as the second most desirable color, with white topping the list. Red rounded out the top five falling behind silver and grey.