NASHVILLE -- Nissan North America will restrict orders for some new cars and delay the debut of a convertible as the automaker battles disruptions stemming from last month's earthquake in Japan, said two people familiar with the plan.
The curbs include a limit on vehicle orders in certain colors because of pigment shortages. Those are primarily red, blue and gray, according to the people, who heard a Friday, April 15, Nissan conference call with retailers.
The steps are aimed at stabilizing manufacturing operations after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the industrial area around Sendai on March 11. They echo actions of Nissan's biggest Japanese rivals, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
Nissan spokeswoman Paula Angelo declined to comment.
The company told dealers that it is changing its factory production mix to shift more of its limited resources to its best-selling vehicles, according to the people, who didn't want to be named.
The delayed car, the Murano CrossCabriolet, is now scheduled to arrive as late as June instead of this month, the people said. It is not intended as a high-volume product. Nissan hopes to promote the convertible crossover as an example of innovative design -- a message the company is trumpeting in its current national ad campaign.
Nissan also informed dealers that it will restrict their ability to change vehicle orders after the orders have been submitted to the factory. And orders have been frozen for an estimated 10,000 employee and corporate vehicles, the people said.
Most of Nissan's new-vehicles sales are products assembled at factories in the United States and Mexico, including the Altima, Versa, Sentra and Frontier pickup. But some high-volume vehicles such as the Rogue and Juke are imported from Japan, as are all Infiniti luxury models.
The flow of vehicles from Japan has fallen sharply since the earthquake. According to internal Nissan figures, Nissan brought 40,000 cars and trucks through U.S. ports in March. The volume is forecast to plunge to 15,000 in April and 7,500 in May.
About 2,300 Nissan and Infiniti vehicles parked at a port were damaged by a tsunami on the day of the earthquake.