Ford will not be able to compete against its European rivals if Britain does not take up the single currency soon, president and chief operating officer Nick Sheele warned yesterday, The Daily Telegraph reported.

“We export more than 80% of the [Jaguar and Land Rover] cars we make in England to Europe,” Sheele, said at the Birmingham motor show, according to the Telegraph.

According to the newspaper, Scheele said that Ford had made strategic assumptions that Britain would enter the single currency between 2004 and 2006 and, the longer the country remained outside the euro zone, the longer Ford would suffer a competitive disadvantage against European manufacturers.

“We cannot overcome this competitive disadvantage,” Scheele warned, the Telegraph said.

Ford UK chairman Roger Putnam told the Daily Telegraph, “If you are a manufacturer and a major exporter, making a 3% margin, and the currency rate moves 4% to 5% every three months, how can you plan your business?”

According to the Daily Telegraph, Ford said that further investment in the UK was at risk if Britain stayed out of the euro, but the company ruled out more job cuts and said that the restructuring of the UK operations had been completed, unless the economy plunges further.

The Telegraph said that Sheele added that the UK government was aware of Ford’s position on the single currency, and that Ford was the single largest private investor in the UK.

Ford is one of several UK manufacturers that has donated more than £5,000 to Britain in Europe, the pro-euro campaign group, the Daily Telegraph added.

Ford’s comments followed a similar statement made earlier this month by Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn who has regular said that the UK-euro situation is a key factor in decisions affecting the future of Nissan’s highly productive yet unprofitable plant in north-east England.

A Vauxhall spokesman yesterday told the Daily Telegraph that the company was in favour of Britain joining the single currency as soon as possible, providing the Chancellor’s five economic tests were met.

Vauxhall exports about 42% of its production from its plants at Luton and Ellesmere Port, the newspaper added.