DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is back in the black. Red, too.
Ford said today it has found nonmetallic black and metallic red paints to replace colors that were not available after the March 11 Japan earthquake.
"Our team has done a wonderful job of putting in replacement colors and those will be produced in the June and July time frame," Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas told Automotive News. "The order bank is now open again."
On March 25, Ford told dealers they could not order any more metallic tuxedo black and several shades of metallic reds.
German supplier Merck KGaA, the sole producer of a paint pigment for automakers such as Ford and Chrysler Group, hasn't been able to operate its Japanese factory because it is too close to a nuclear reactor crippled by the quake. Merck's Onahama factory could take four weeks or more to restart once company engineers can gain access to the facility.
The plant produces the pigment Xirallic used to give metallic paints a glistening look.
Six other colors to go
Six other metallic colors in Ford Motor Co.'s lineup will go out of production in the next few weeks and months because of the shortage of Xirallic, Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said.
Those are: Bordeaux reserve, lava red, Kona blue, sangria red, earth and bright magenta, Nissen said. Ford will replace those colors with similar metallic shades, he said.
"In the end dealers and customers will still have a full range of colors to pick from," Nissen said.
The color replacement will not affect vehicle pricing, he said.
Ford and Lincoln dealers will receive specifics about when certain vehicles and those various colors will go out of production, and when they can order replacement colors. The updates will come in the next few weeks and months, Nissen said.
Black for black
For now, Ford will replace tuxedo black on 2011 models with a nonmetallic color simply called "black." It's similar to the black Ford offers on the 2011 Mustang.
Tuxedo black is featured on the Ford F-150 and Super Duty pickups, the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, the Ford Explorer crossover and the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans. The metallic reds are available on the Super Duty, Expedition, Navigator, 2012 Ford Focus compact, the Ford Econoline van and the Ford Ranger pickup.
The color red fire will be replaced by toreador red, Nissen said. He did not have other replacement color names yet.
The other outgoing colors with Xirallic affect most of the Ford and Lincoln lineup but Ford will slowly phase those out as it offers the replacement shades, Nissen said.
Same suppliers, different paint
All of Ford's replacement colors are paints Ford has used in the past or offers now on certain vehicles, such as the Mustang's black.
"We're still using the same paint suppliers," Nissen said. "The metallic look doesn't only come from Xirallic. We've used pigments before that gave metallic looks."
In the case of tuxedo black, Ford didn't have a similar metallic formulation that could be developed in a short period of time, Nissen said. That's why Ford is using the same black it has elsewhere in the lineup while it works on a metallic replacement, Nissen said.
Ford does not anticipate the hiccup in the outgoing metallic colors will hurt sales. And Ford plans to bring the original metallic colors back eventually.
Said Nissen: "As that supplier, Merck, comes back on line, we'll continue to work to see if that pigment can be phased back in."