Ford has admitted that it can no longer guarantee when Jaguar will return to profit, following new figures which show a further fall in European sales.

Mark Fields, executive vice-president of Ford in Europe, yesterday said he could not put a date on when the luxury car maker would be back in the black.

Ford has said previously that it expected Jaguar to break even in 2007.

"We are not going to put a date on when Jaguar will return to profitability," Mr Fields said.

The news came as Brussels-based motor trade body Acea revealed disappointing sales results for the Coventry-based carmaker.

During August, Jaguar saw a 22.5 per cent decline in new car registrations across the European Union and the three EFTA states of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

Jaguar sold just 1,669 cars in August, compared to 2,153 in the same month last year.

In the eight months from January the manufacturer saw a 24.5 per cent cumulative decline with a total of 30,563 units sold.

Despite this, Mr Fields announced on Tuesday that Ford was starting to see savings at Jaguar from headcount reductions and from the ending of car production at the Brown's Lane plant in Coventry.

Yesterday Ford's chief operating officer Jim Padilla indicated there was a need to adopt a similar cost-cutting strategy across the whole of the group.

Talking at the Frankfurt auto show Mr Padilla said: "We will be aggressive. We will address costs. We will address our footprint as a business. We will address capacity."

Ford has not ruled out deeper job cuts in its salaried workforce or a closure of manufacturing plants.

Meanwhile, there were more promising figures for other car producers as new registrations across the European Union increased for the first time this year.

Figures for the first eight months of 2005 showed a marginal increase of 0.4 per cent in car registrations in the 15 European Union countries, compared to the same period in

Acea described the slim rise as "encouraging".

However, figures including


the three EFTA countries, still saw a 7.5 per cent decline in comparative sales.

Nevertheless, figures for August were strong, buoyed by additional working days.

Total sales across both the EU and EFTA countries jumped 8.3 per cent to 840,124 units.

With depressed consumer spending, the UK was the only one of the five main markets to post a drop in new registrations.

Sales in the UK were down

2.3 per cent to 83,066 compared to August last year.

In contrast, Germany saw new registrations leap 11.7 per cent to 246,666 units.

There was also some good news for manufacturers in the Midlands.

Unlike Jaguar, Solihullbased Land Rover succeeded in clawing back market share over August with sales up 36.3 per cent to 3,323 units.

Registrations at the BMW Group also saw a 13.5 per cent rise, giving it a market share of

5.3 per cent in Europe.

However, this failed to keep the group ahead of luxury car manufacturer Mercedes, which saw sales leap 19.9 per cent during August.

MG Rover continued to fade from the sales tables after the end of production at Longbridge in April. Sales were down 40 per cent to 2,184 in August and 49.9 per cent down over the first eight months at 38,872.

VW Group continues to sell the greatest volume of cars in Western Europe with August registrations up 21.8 per cent, aided by strong showings by its Audi luxury arm, Czechbased Skoda and its core VW brand.

South Korea's Kia once again led the growth league as registrations leapt 38 per cent last month.