Toyota could trim its UK workforce after a sharp decline in demand led it to post its first losses since 1941, it was reported today.
The Japanese car giant, which has a major plant at Burnaston in Derbyshire, has forecast an operating loss of 150 billion yen (£1.12 billion) for the financial year ending next March - the first such loss since it began reporting operating figures.
According to the Times, Toyota could cut up to 800 jobs in the UK, or 15% of its workforce, adding to the 40,000 positions expected to be shed from the UK car industry's 200,000 total over the next three years.
The Times said declining demand was "likely" to trigger redundancies across Toyota's business.
The car maker has not made any of its permanent staff redundant, but it is understood to have already cut an unspecified number of temporary workers.
Toyota promised to do all it could to retain permanent British workers, but has reportedly not ruled out the possibility of redundancies.
A spokeswoman for Toyota told the Times: "The times are changing so fast that it's difficult to predict what will happen even in the next two months."
Kota Yuzawa, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, reportedly said that global auto demand would fall between 15% and 20% over the next few years, potentially leading to dramatic reviews of production systems by leading manufacturers.
Toyota's performance is a significant reversal from last year when the company made an operating profit of 2.27 trillion yen (£17 billion).
Company president Katsuaki Watanabe said: "The change that has hit the world economy is of a critical scale that comes once in a hundred years."
Toyota yesterday lowered the number of vehicles it expects to sell globally to 8.96 million, down 4% from a year ago. The company said it would cut thousands of temporary workers at its Japanese plants, but said their full-time counterparts would have job security.