The global automotive recession has hit the West Midlands with the loss of nearly 100 jobs at vanmaker LDV.
The company announced it was shedding 95 jobs at its Washwood Heath factory in Birmingham less than two weeks after revealing UK sales of its Maxus range of vans and chassis-cab vehicles had fallen by 39 per cent to 4,140 up to the end of October.
The cuts come on top of about 600 redundancies at Jaguar Land Rover’s three car assembly plants.
LDV, which is part of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s industrial empire, is also believed to have scaled back its planned 2009 output in the teeth of the downturn.
It said the 95 job cuts, out of a total of nearly 1,000, will take affect at the end of the year and that discussions were taking place with trade unions.
The cuts were the direct consequence of a worldwide fall in demand for Maxus and projected sales for the first half of 2009.
A spokesman said the company’s new markets in Russia and eastern Europe, which had been buoyant until about six weeks ago, were now shrinking along with those in the UK and western Europe.
“Unfortunately, we can only carry the amount of labour needed to build the vehicles.”
LDV was the biggest volume faller in the latest UK commercial vehicle sales figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Commenting on the figures, Paul Everitt, chief executive of the SMMT, said the banking crisis combined with deepening economic recession had made a “big dent” in van and truck orders in recent weeks.
“Van demand will drop sharply before steadying at the end of 2009 to recover in 2010,” he added.
LDV’s job cuts signal the end of a period of expansion enjoyed by the company since it was taken over by Mr Deripaska’s Gaz automotive group, based at Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, in 2006.
The acquisition, for about £50 million, followed a period of turmoil that had seen the company slump briefly into administration. It hit cashflow problems in the winter of 2005 as a result of the higher production costs of the well-received Maxus that had replaced the company’s long in the tooth Pilot and Convoy vehicles earlier that year.
With Maxus production growing rapidly, Gaz announced plans to build a variant of the van, adapted for the rougher roads and colder weather of eastern Europe, in Russia from next year. It is not yet known whether the group will press ahead with the scheme in the hope of an early recovery in its markets.
Meanwhile, figures from Germany have shown the western European automotive market contracted in October at the fastest rate so far this year.
German automotive industry association VDA said sales fell 16 per cent in October to one million vehicles as the financial crisis continued to wreak havoc across key economies in Europe.
Double-digit percentage declines, including 19 per cent in Italy, 23 per cent in Britain and 40 per cent in Spain contributed to the grim figures, the VDA said.
New EU member states in eastern Europe could not sustain their previous growth rates as sales fell by three per cent to 99,000 vehicles.
‘Internal demand has for the moment surpassed its zenith. Most of the countries are battling rising inflation as a result of sizeable wage hikes,’ the VDA said in a statement.
The overall European automotive market slid by 15 per cent as a result to 1.1 million units.
In the ten months to October, western European sales fell by six per cent.