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Shortages could slow down US auto production

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2011, file photo, General Motors employees work on a van assembly line at GM's plant in Wentzville, Mo. The U.S. auto industry, already stretched to meet growing car and truck sales, faces parts shortages that could limit the number
FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2011, file photo, General Motors employees work on a van assembly line at GM's plant in Wentzville, Mo. The U.S. auto industry, already stretched to meet growing car and truck sales, faces parts shortages that could limit the number of new vehicles in showrooms later this year and crimp a historic turnaround. The most immediate problem, the shortage of a crucial plastic resin, could surface in few weeks. And later in the year, automakers could face an even bigger crisis, running short of parts simply because there aren’t enough factories and people left to make them.
Jeff Roberson, File, Associated Press

DETROIT — The U.S. auto industry is facing two serious problems that could limit the number of new vehicles in showrooms later this year.

The most immediate problem is a shortage of a plastic resin used to make fuel lines and other parts. Last month, an explosion knocked out a plant in Germany that makes the substance. That could cause auto assembly plants to slow down in a few weeks.

And if sales of cars and trucks continue to grow, the industry could run short of parts later this year because there aren't enough factories to make them. The parts industry shrank during the recession and hasn't grown enough to handle rising sales.