The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has sent ripples around the world in more ways than one. The Japanese auto industry has been shut down completely since the disaster due to supply shortages of parts from some second and third tier component makers who make parts for the cars.
In March the first ripples of this disaster began to hit American manufacturers who also source many parts and components from Japan for cars made here in the States. First it was the announcement by Ford and other manufacturer’s that certain colors of paint could not be ordered as pigments for some colors come from Japan.
Ford also announced that some of their plants would cease production indefinitely in because the vehicles made require parts or components from Japanese suppliers who have been affected by the disaster. Ford has closed production plants at Flat Rock, MI where the Mustang is built and also the Louisville, KY plant where Super Duty F-Series trucks and the Ford Expedition/Lincoln Navigator twins are built.
Ford would not specify which parts or components were the culprits but we would submit they are most likely electronics components as many of those are sourced from Japan or parts that go into making those components come from Japan such as computer chips or microprocessors. Because shortages of common parts are to be expected it is said that Ford chose these two plants to close in the strategy to conserve parts because of the slower selling rate of the vehicles they build.
While Ford’s announcement is that the shut down is for this week, it was not specified when production would be restarted for certain. It all depends on the ability to secure the supply lines of the parts in question.
Ford’s spokesman did not raise concern over the shut down as there are ample supplies of both the 2012 Mustangs and the large SUV’s in their inventories to draw from. Additionally for the time being, Ford has the Michigan Truck plant in Dearborn where F-150’s are being built which is still said to be in operation.
As the industry shut down in Japan continues to show up in other parts of the auto industry world wide, we may see additional production stoppages as some parts on hand in the States becomes more scarce. Japanese manufacturers have been stating they plan to begin production again on April 11th if all goes well, albeit at a slower pace.