Lars Holmqvist, former CEO of European automotive suppliers association, CLEPA, has warned of the "real danger" that OEMs' restructuring plans could cost half a million jobs across the continent.

PSA Peugeot Citroen was the first to break cover recently with its drastic plans to slash up to 8,000 jobs and close its C3-producing plant near Aulnay, but there are fears it may be only the first of several automakers to announce huge lay-offs across Europe as the economic downturn continues to worsen.

"This is a real danger now because people like PSA and Renault, they have to do something and Ford as well," Holmqvist, who is now a consultant to communications partnership, Kreab & Gavin Anderson, told just-auto from Sweden.

"It [job losses] is enormous. If you take 80,000 jobs from carmakers, which is four factories, then it is half a million [total] jobs, there is a factor of five, five jobs in the suppliers is one job in the carmaker.

"It won't happen tomorrow but you can't count on a solution demand will return - there is no short term solution. The only thing would be it could pick up more in Russia and China.

"People are getting very nervous but, at the same time with the problems we have in Europe, this does not count in first place, but third place."

Holmqvist noted Europe was more preoccupied currently with shoring up the euro and the banking system.

"It [job losses] is a bad thing, but not compared if the euro collapses or Greece goes down," he said.

Fiat issued its own cryptic statement last week following a meeting with its historically challenging unions that it was "unable to give any indications concerning future investments."

The Italian automaker has struggled to achieve labour body unanimity in implementing its productivity plans with CEO, Sergio Marchionne, emphasising in order to be competitive, unions had to respect the national collective labour agreement.

"Today it has become nearly impossible to work with such total uncertainty surrounding the effective application of legal and contractual conditions," said a Fiat statement.