Lotus and Ford cut production further

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THE DEPRESSION in the motor industry deepened yesterday as Lotus and Ford announced fresh cutbacks in the face of declining sales.

Lotus is making further redundancies and ceasing production of the 170mph Lotus Carlton at its sports car factory in Hethel, Norwich.

Ford said it would stop production of Transit vans at Southampton for a week from Monday because of the continuing recession.

The number of job losses at Lotus was not clear, although union representatives claimed it would be at least 70. Originally Hethel had planned to make 1,100 Lotus Carltons under licence from its parent company, General Motors. But the production run has been cut to 951 because of the impact of the economic downturn on new car sales.

Earlier this year Lotus scrapped production of the Elan model with 300 job losses because of disappointing sales and mounting losses. The latest cuts mean that Hethel will concentrate solely on producing the Lotus Esprit.

The Ford shutdown at Southampton will result in more than 2,500 workers staying at home on basic pay for the week and the loss of about 1,800 Transits. 'The continuing recession is to blame,' a spokeswoman said.

Last month Ford announced 1,500 job losses, mainly at its car plants in Dagenham, Essex, and Halewood on Merseyside.

Workers at the two factories are already on short-time working this month because of a drop in sales.