Union leaders and Ford executives are preparing to meet amid mounting speculation that the US carmaker is to axe its Jaguar factory in Coventry, with the loss of 2,000 jobs, The Times reported on its website.

Ford reportedly has confirmed that it will, at 1.30pm [12.30GMT], release a trading statement “including an update on Jaguar operations”.

Workers arriving at the plant this morning told The Times they expected the announcement to confirm the closure of the Browns Lane plant which the marque rates as its “spiritual home” – the Swallow Sidecar Company, on which Jaguar was built, moved to Coventry in 1928.

Terry Wheatley, 58, who has worked for Jaguar for 21 years, reportedly said he expected the factory to close.

“It will be a very sad day for Coventry,” he told The Times. “For a prestigious company name to leave the town will be a big loss.”

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Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour MP and former Jaguar chief executive, told the paper he was “puzzled” over the closure rumours, which heralded a “very grim day”.

Ford had, in February, assured Patricia Hewitt, the Trade Secretary, that “production into the long term would continue and that it would be vastly more expensive to close the plant than continue with it,” Robinson told BBC’s Today programme.

“The trade unions, the employees in general have had no significant discussions with Jaguar, no negotiations. Nobody knows why there is suddenly this big volte face.”

Tony Woodley, the general secretary of the Transport & General Workers’ Union, told The Times that Ford would be breaking promises in closing Browns Lane.

“I am going into these talks mindful that we have agreements on job security and the future of Jaguar plants,” Woodley said.

Like other news media, The Times said it is believed that the closure of Browns Lane would see work transferred to the other two UK Jaguar plants, at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham and Halewood on Merseyside.

Production at all three sites was cut last month because of weak demand for the marque, particularly in the US, The Times noted.