By the end of March, global automakers are estimated to lose production of 600,000 vehicles as the disaster in Japan has stopped assembly lines and work at suppliers, including Merck KGaA (the maker of a key paint pigment).
Michael Robinet, vice president of Lexington, Massachusetts,-based IHS Automotive, said that about 320,000 vehicles may have been lost worldwide as of March 24. He said that parts supplies may start running out as soon as early April.
Robinet said that the next surge of shutdowns arrives when the pipeline of parts that were already built dries up, according to Autonews. Gangolf Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Darmstadt, Germany,-based company, said that Merck lost production of a metallic automotive paint pigment called Xirallic since its factory is 28 miles from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant that was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami.
He said that Merck doesn't know when company engineers will be able to regain access into the Onahama factory. But as soon as the engineers are able to re-enter the facility, it will take four to eight weeks to resume output.
Spokeswoman Katie Hepler said that Chrysler is restricting U.S. dealers' orders on 10 vehicle colors due to the potential for a shortage. She said that the affected colors include blacks, such as Blackberry Pearl, and reds, such as Inferno.