While Ford's WRC future hangs in the balance, it seems the company's European division is not the only one fighting for survival. GM looks set to dismiss about 12 000 members of its European workforce.

While Ford's WRC future hangs in the balance, it seems the company's European division is not the only one fighting for survival. GM looks set to dismiss about 12 000 members of its European workforce.

According to a report, GM will axe about 12 000 jobs - mainly in Germany - as the manufacturer aims to lower costs by about R3,29 billion.

However, the company will not institute immediate factory closures and Opel's sites in Eisenach and Gliwice, Poland, are apparently safe from the looming job cuts.

Two of its biggest factories remain under threat, though. A decision has yet to be made whether to build the new Opel Vectra and the Saab 9-3 at GM's Russelsheim plant or at Saab's Trollhattan factory in Sweden.

Meanwhile, Ford is expected to announce its future WRC plans after this weekend's Tour of Corsica. The WRC programme was to have been discussed in April 2005, but Ford's withdrawal from F1 has thrown the outcome of these scheduled negotiations into doubt.

Ford officials have demanded budget cuts and their decision is likely to hinge on the results of Wednesday's FIA World Council meeting. Thus far, Ford's M-Sport works team has not yet started work on the rally version of its new Focus.

This latest development follows the recent misfortune of Jaguar and Land Rover, which both form part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group.

It was announced earlier this year that Jaguar would be forced to cut production at its three British plants by 11 per cent. Two weeks later, the ceasing of vehicle production at Jaguar's Coventry plant and the axing of its F1 programme were announced.

Land Rover's legendary Solihull plant was saved from imminent closure after radical steps were proposed in September to increase the plant's productivity.