Japan earthquake and tsunami continue to send shock waves through American auto industry

Shortages could cripple U.S. production

(WXYZ) - The effects of the earthquake and giant tsunami are continuing to ripple through Japan's auto industry and the American auto industry as well.

Chrysler and Ford are both limiting orders of vehicles in certain colors because of a shortage of paint pigments. General Motors also idled its pick-up truck plant in Shreveport, Louisiana to conserve valuable computer chips.

John McElroy of AutoLine Detroit tells Action News that the paint shortage is an inconvenience but the shortage of computer chips is a serious problem. McElroy says "If they don't have the computer chips that control the engine, they can't even drive the vehicle off the line."

McElroy says that if it was something small like a jack or spare tire, they could still build the vehicles and wait for the components, but the chips are integral to the production.

Bob Page of Page Toyota tells Action News that supplies of the popular Toyota Prius are starting to dwindle. Page says "we are down to an 18 or 19 day supply, primarily because of the high demand because of gas prices."

Page goes on to say "we used to be able to trade with other dealers to get exactly what the customer wants, but that is getting harder and harder to do because every car is presold before we get it." 

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