Ford will suspend production at its plant in Cologne, Germany, for as many as eight days before the summer break starts in July because of falling sales in southern Europe.

Ford will decide later on any additional days of production stoppages by the end of October, spokeswoman Ragah Kamel told Bloomberg News. The cutbacks affect 4,000 of the roughly 17,500 employees at the factory, she added. Summer holiday at the plant is scheduled for July and August.

Ford said in a statement it would apply for government assistance to make up for the curtailed hours and would pay additional compensation.

Kamel told Bloomberg the plant, which makes the Fiesta, is scheduled to build 345,000 vehicles this year, about 6% fewer than in 2011.

Fiesta sales in Europe were off 10.4% to 91,229 units in the first quarter of 2012, according to JATO Dynamics.

Over 85% of the Cologne plant’s production volume is exported and, “with an average utilisation of 85%, the plant is still relatively busy,” Kamel told Bloomberg. No similar measures are planned at Ford’s other German manufacturing site in Saarlouis, she added.

The cutback was reported earlier by Koelner Stadt- Anzeiger which said Ford planned as many as 16 days without production from May to the end of October.