There were new indications last night that Ford has no plans to retain a minority stake in Jaguar and Land Rover following a sale of the West Midland luxury car brands.
The US group is in detailed negotiations with its preferred bidder, India's Tata industrial conglomerate, but no announcement is expected before the end of March or the beginning of April.
There has been speculation that Ford would retain a junior interest in the two companies, as it has done with Aston Martin.
But an Indian financial newspaper said yesterday that Tata Motors was gearing up for an outright purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover, for which it is expected to pay in the region of £1 billion.
The Economic Times of India, quoting "sources close to the development", said Ford was confident enough about the future of the companies in Tata's hands not to feel the need to retain an interest.
The report reinforced comments made by Ford group chief financial officer Don Leclair in Detroit last week.
Answering questions at the Blue Oval's annual financial results presentation, Mr Leclair said: "Our plan right now is to sell the business in its entirety."
Neither Ford nor Tata would comment yesterday.
Trade unions representing some 16,000 Jaguar and Land Rover employees want Ford to retain an interest in order to protect the continuity of the manufacturers' plants at Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Hale-wood on Merseyside.
It is believed that union leaders have been invited to tour a Tata plant at Pune in India in order to get a feel for the company's manufacturing capabilities.
Jaguar design director Ian Callum recently became the first senior executive of the company to give his views on the prospect of a Tata takeover.
Management was "entirely relaxed" and believe that both companies would be free to develop new cars in whatever way they thought best.
Mr Callum, who is responsible for the XK sports and XF saloon, the two models expected to restore Jaguar to profitability, was quoted as saying: "We have shown Tata our new model lines and the planned product cycle.
"The two national cultures appear to fit together very well and Tata is being very respectful about what we are doing."
Meanwhile, automotive industry expert Geraldine Tickle said a takeover by Tata of Jaguar and Land Rover would put a question mark over the Indian group's European Technology Centre which has been based at Warwick University since 2005.
Ms Tickle, a partner at Birmingham and London law firm Martineau Johnson, said Jaguar and Land Rover had their own research and development centres.
A takeover could "mean the end of the road" for Tata's complex, which was set up to enable the fast-growing group to acquire western automotive development expertise.
Such a takeover would take two West Midland global manufacturers into "uncharted territory with uncertain consequences", Ms Tickle said.
"It is hard to see the way these businesses will go if the Tata deal goes ahead.
"Tata has some characteristics of a global conglomerate, with many different businesses, including commercial vehicles, in their portfolio but as regards cars, their interests until now seem to have been at the bottom end of the market."
She went on to say that she believes that a "wholesale shift of production elsewhere" is unlikely under Tata.