Yesterday was "Black Monday" for Ford's American workforce, up to 30,000 of whom face losing their jobs with the closure of 14 factories between now and 2012.
The drastic scale of the long awaited plan drawn up by Ford in an attempt to staunch the massive losses from its US carmaking operations was finally revealed yesterday.
The world's third largest automotive manufacturer behind General Motors and Toyota said it would "align capacity with expected demand" by cutting production at its North American plants by 1.2 million vehicles, or 26 per cent, by 2008.
Between 25,000-30,000 manufacturing jobs will axed along with unspecified numbers of salaried staff and executives. The 14 factories to be "idled" will close by 2012 and include seven vehicle assembly plants.
Yesterday's annoucement, which coincided with publication of Ford's 2005 financial results, follows what one automotive industry analyst called "the most serious crisis at Ford in modern times".
Despite showing a headline profit for the past three years, Ford, like its Detroit rival GM, has been hit by soaring healthcare and pension costs while seeing Far Eastern rivals such as Toyota take a heavy toll on its home market sales.
To add to its woes, Americans are turning their backs on their once beloved gasguzzling trucks and SUVs as pump prices rocket, and its corporate bonds have been cut to junk bond status by the debt-rating agencies.
Ford has the plant capacity to build 4.5 million vehicles a year in North America but last year produced just 3.3 million - a shortfall of 27 per cent.
Blue collar workers were using the phrase "Black Monday" even before yesterday's announcement.
Ford chairman and chief executive Bill Ford said "painful sacrifices" were needed to secure the group's future.
The team behind the restructuring plan was headed by Mark Fields, the former head of Ford Europe and the man who ended car production at Jaguar's historic Browns Lane site in Coventry and drew up the so-called road map to improve quality and productivity at Land Rover.
Both companies are part of Ford's loss-making Premier Automotive Group of prestige European brands which staged something of a turnaround in 2005, thanks mainly to some successful new Land Rover models.
The Land Rover affect meant PAG reported a fourth quarter profit of £26.1 million compared with a pretax loss of £145 million in the same period in 2004.
That helped reduce the group's full-year losses to £57 million from £420 million the previous year on sales marginally ahead at £4.5 billion. Ford Europe, including PAG, registered a full-year profit of £20.45 million compared with 2004's £356 million deficit.
Another bad year for Ford's American operations resulted in its worldwide automotive sector reporting an overall pretax loss of £56 million compared with a profit of £483 million last time.
At the headline level, the Blue Oval company ended in the black for the third year running in 2005 thanks to a £2.5 billion contribution from its financial services sector.
Group pretax profit came in at £1.136 billion versus £1.999 billion the year before on revenues marginally up at £101 billion. The earnings included a £739 million charge for a write-down of Jaguar and Land Rover fixed assets.