Ford to idle Belgian plant. Why? Japan.

Ford idles European plant as a precautionary measure to conserve parts. Ford also cancels overtime at three US plants and one in Thailand.

Francois Lenoir/Reuters/File
Ford Europe Chief Executive Officer John Fleming (left) and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt get out of a newly built S-Max Ford car during a ceremony marking the production launch of two vehicles at the Ford plant in Genk, Belgium, in this 2006 file photo. Ford Motor Co will idle its auto plant in Genk for five days starting April 4, 2011, to conserve parts following the earthquake and nuclear crisis in Japan that has disrupted supplies for numerous automakers.

Ford Motor Co. said Saturday it will idle an auto plant in Belgium for five days, trying to conserve supplies of Japanese parts that could run low following an earthquake and tsunami.

Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said the plant in Genk will close beginning April 4. The company had planned to idle the plant in May for another reason. But it moved up the date after auto parts suppliers in Japan were damaged by the twin disaster on March 11.

"We didn't run short of parts, but if we can find things to do to conserve parts it certainly makes sense to do that," he said.

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Ford makes Mondeo sedans and Galaxy and S-Max minivans at the Belgian plant.

Ford has also canceled overtime at three plants in the U.S. and one in Thailand.

Japanese suppliers are crucial for global car companies, and parts and other supplies from Japan aren't reaching factories because of quake damage and power outages in that country. That has interrupted car production around the world, from Louisiana to Germany.

After a Japanese plant that makes pigment for auto paint was damaged, for example, Ford told dealers to stop taking new orders for F-150 and Super Duty pickups and Expedition and Navigator SUVs in "tuxedo black," a color that uses the pigment.

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