Ford Stops Making Black Vehicles (Briefly)

Natural disasters in Japan have lessened the supply of pigments necessary to make black paint.

Natural disasters in Japan have lessened the supply of pigments necessary to make black paint.

WSJ (“Reverse Model T: Some Fords Won’t Be Painted Black“):

Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford used to tell customers they could buy a Model T in any color as long was it was black. Not any more, at least for the time being.

On Thursday, the auto maker halted all new orders for trucks, SUVs and cars in “tuxedo black” and other hues due to shortages of some pigments made in Japan.

Ford, in a memo to its dealers, said its plants will continue producing the vehicles affected. But during the week of April 4, it will produce no F-150s, SuperDutys, Expeditions or Navigators in “tuxedo black,” the memo said. Ford also will limit production of tuxedo black versions of the Explorer, Taurus and MKS at its Chicago assembly plant.

Production of certain red vehicles also will be limited at the Kentucky truck, Michigan assembly, Ohio truck and Twin Cities truck plants, the memo said. The shades of red include “royal red,” “red candy,” and “red fire.”

“We have recently been made aware of a supply chain issue that will disrupt the supply of pigments for some of our paints,” Kenneth M. Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales chief, wrote in the memo, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The action by Ford is the latest sign the devastation in Japan is having an impact on auto makers in other parts of the world. General Motors Co. has stopped production at a truck plant in Louisiana and slowed output at two in Europe because of a shortage of air flow sensors made by Hitachi Ltd.’s Hitachi Automotive Systems in two Japanese plants that have been shut down because of the earthquake. France’s PSA Peugeot-Citroën SA has also cut production in several European plants because of a shortage of Hitachi sensors.

Ford spokesman Todd Nissen confirmed the auto maker sent the note Thursday as a precautionary measure concerning metallic paints.

“There is a pigment, called xirallic, that is running low in supply,” Mr. Nissen said. “While we can fill current orders we have asked dealers not to take new orders for certain types of paints.”

The DC area will be particularly hard hit, as being in a large, black vehicle is a key way of signaling you’re more important than other people.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Natural Disasters, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. tom p says:

    The DC area will be particularly hard hit, as being in a large, black vehicle is a key way of signaling you’re more important than other people.

    Heh.

  2. Jack says:

    So, a question for those large corporations that “offshored” our jobs:

    How’s that “efficiency” thing working out for you?

  3. Milo Dundee says:

    Glow in the dark blue should be widely available from Japan.

  4. Model-T says:

    Really? they have to ship over pigments from 1/2 way across the world?
    How hard can it be to get an american supplier?

  5. Albert says:

    DC area vehicles should be manditorily painted Asswipe Brown to signal the importance of these bottom feeders

  6. Keith says:

    How is it that a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor with a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama fail to proof read? “Henry Ford used to tell customers they could buy a Model T in any color as long was it was black“. This angers me, that is all.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Keith: It’s a blockquote from the WSJ. It appears that they transposed a word.

  8. Alexander says:

    Ford only implemented the “any colour as long as it was black policy”, 1914-1926. The quote is from the 1909 book “My life and work” by Henry Ford, referring to what he intended to do in the future. Originally Ford made Model-T’s in green, gray, blue and red. Later they were available in midnight blue. Initially from 1908-1914 black was one colour that you could not have.

  9. Franklin says:

    How is it that a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor with a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama fail to proof read? “Henry Ford used to tell customers they could buy a Model T in any color as long was it was black“. This angers me, that is all.

    Wow, I hope you don’t own a gun, Keith.

  10. Don says:

    great picture…. of a line of Chevys.

  11. Alejandro Leon Calad says:

    @Jack: you just read my mind… that was exactly what I was gonna say to all corporations that only think bottom line wise.

    @Big CORPORATIONS: See what happens when you export all the jobs to make one more dime? How’s that greed working out for you? and don’t worry, things are just gonna get worse in the future.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Don:

    Yeah, I know they’re not Fords. The pic was in support of my closing line about DC VIPs, not Ford’s problems.

  13. bgarrett says:

    Henry Ford NEVER said that! Model T Fords were available in several colors

  14. Syndicate Resident says:

    A combination of union thuggery, anti-industry at the EPA, and corporate taxation have even sent the paint company for the American car overseas.

  15. Keapon Laffin says:

    What does any of this have to do with ‘shipping jobs overseas’? Or did Ford used to a whole paint supply chain?

    As far as importing paint and ‘why can’t they find an American supplier’..Was there one? Paints, dyes and pigments have always been a highly specialized product. For thousands of years to today many pigments can still only be produced in a very few locations. Could it be the pigment they need to make those colors is only produced in Japan because that’s the only place the special ingredients/conditions exist to create that pigment?
    I’m pretty sure brand-name car paint is all sorts of patented and the exact hue copywrited. They can’t just pick another black without a whole set of other problems. Licensing issues, perception of the Ford brand, quality difference issues that affects how the warranties have to be re-written.

    We’re out of Red #40. Why can’t we find an American supplier? Because the Cochineal bug doesn’t grow in America!

  16. Lgbpop says:

    Partly as well because the EPA forbids use of certain pigments and chemicals, classifying them as hazmat. They virtually destroyed the specialty-finish market in architectural lock hardware back in the 1970s, too, when the regulations they wrote put an end to the acid-etched bronze and brass finishes that were so popular and lasted forever. Try to find lock hardware in US11E and a locksmith will either laugh at you (a young one) or smile sympathetically and tell you that you don’t look your age.