Ford's woes deepened yesterday when it revealed its second quarter losses were more than double the figure reported last month.

The rapidly shrinking Detroit "giant" also said it expected its Premier Automotive Group of European luxury brands - Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo - to lose money again this year.

Ford confirmed that it had appointed former Goldman Sachs mergers and acquisitions specialist Kenneth Leet strategic adviser to chairman and chief executive Bill Ford.

According to the company, Mr Leet will be "exploring a broad range of strategic alternatives for the company".

Automotive commentators in the US and the UK have interpreted that as meaning Mr Leet will be telling Mr Ford what operations to get rid of - with Jaguar, or PAG as a whole - topping the hit list.

The Detroit News , an authority on the car industry, quoted an unnamed source at Ford as saying: "It's time to figure out what we are going to do about some of these brands."

When it reported its second quarter financial results in July, Ford declared a group loss of $123 million (£67 million) compared with a profit of $946 million (£517 million) in the same period last year.

A number of factors contributed to the $1 billion-plus reversal. Ford, like its Detroit rival General Motors, is facing huge healthcare and pension costs at a time when soaring petrol prices in the US are sending sales of its profitable, gas-guzzling, SUVs and trucks, into sharp reverse.

The cost of a turnaround programme that entails closing 14 plants and axing 30,000 hourly-paid jobs also took a toll on the bottom line.

It emerged yesterday that in a filing with US financial regulator the Securities & Exchange Commission, Ford said its raising its net loss figure by $131 million (£70 million) to $254 million (£135 million) after booking higher than expected pension costs.

PAG booked a second quarter loss of $162 million (£88.5 million) compared with a $17 million (£9.3 million) surplus last time.

A major problem for PAG is that a sterling/dollar exchange rate pushing $1.90 is making Jaguars and Land Rovers expensive in the US at a time when the luxury sector of the market has never been so competitive.

Speculation that Ford, which has pumped more than £2 billion at current exchange rates in Jaguar since acquiring it for £1.6 billion in 1989, has given up on the persistent loss-maker has been bubbling under the surface of the UK car industry for months.

Earlier this year it was rumoured that a sale to Renault was imminent.

Jaguar, however, was justifiably enjoying the success of its new XK sports car, launched at a time when its new strategy of concentrating on selling more the profitable, higher margin cars in each of its market segments at the expense of volumes began to pay off.