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Parts woes due to Japan earthquake force Ford to suspend work at 3 plants

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. says it has idled three overseas factories to conserve auto parts following last month’s earthquake in Japan.

Assembly plants in Pretoria, South Africa, and Nanjing, China, will be down this week. Spokesman Todd Nissen says the factories had been scheduled to shut down for a week later this year, but the downtime was pulled ahead.

The Nanjing plant is a joint venture with Mazda and makes compact cars for both companies. The Pretoria plant makes small cars and pickup trucks for both companies.

Ford also is shutting a factory in Taiwan for two weeks because it has run short of parts. The plant makes the Ford Focus, Mondeo, Escape and Econovan and the Mazda3 and Mazda5.