Jaguar Land Rover is to axe up to a further 400 jobs as the global economic downturn takes its toll on the luxury carmaker’s sales.

The news was broken on Monday to a 16,000-strong workforce already facing short-time working and prolonged plant shutdowns.

The Indian-owned company said it is asking for volunteers for redundancy predominantly among manufacturing workers at its three vehicle assembly sites, Castle Bromwich in Birmingham, Lode Lane in Solihull and Halewood on Merseyside.

Some jobs may also go at the company’s two engineering centres at Whitely in Coventry and Gaydon in Warwickshire. And salaried staff within the manufacturing divisions are also being invited to apply for pay-offs.

The redundancies are on top of the 198 job losses that JLR announced recently as part of its “annual efficiency drive”.

Some shifts have been scrapped at the three plants and shutdowns have been extended as the company cuts output of vehicles in the teeth of a sales slump that has hit virtually every carmaker in Europe and the US.

JLR spokesman Mark Foster said the company was looking to lose between 300 and 400 manufacturing jobs by the end of January.

“We are looking for volunteers. Applications for the 198 redundancies we announced earlier were heavily over-subscribed.

“We don’t see any significant change in trading conditions in the near future.

“The environment remains volatile but it is encouraging that the cost of raw materials is coming down from its peak and the move in the value of the pound has been favourable to Jaguar Land Rover and will benefit our ongoing profitability. We will continue to monitor the situation,” Mr Foster added.

A further non-production week will be implemented at Halewood, which makes the Jaguar X Type and the Land Rover Freelander, in December.

JLR chief executive David Smith said: “While regretable, this is a necessary action to manage our business through a very challenging period.”

As well as seeing night shift working on some model lines suspended as part of JLR’s drive to match output with demand, production workers have also recently been offered three months’ leave at 80 per cent of their normal pay.

JLR owner Tata Motors of India said last week that combined sales of the two famous British brands fell by 4.7 per cent to 214,480 vehicles in the first nine months of the year.

Within that total, however, Jaguar sales grew by 12.9 per cent thanks to the popularity of its new XJ saloon car built at Castle Bromwich, while Land Rover, hard hit by the slump in sales in big 4x4s such as the Range Rover, lost 9.7 per cent.

Among other carmakers in the luxury sector, Bentley, part of the Volkswagen group, is cutting up to 300 jobs at its factory at Crewe in Cheshire.

Signs that the near-global downturn in car sales is hitting companies lower down the automotive production chain came last week when Redditch-based components group GKN said it was cutting at least 1,400 jobs – predominantly in its automotive division – worldwide.

GKN chief executive Kevin Smith said of the downturn: “I cannot remember it ever having been as bad before.”