Workers at the Vauxhall factory in Luton, which has been building cars since 1905, have expressed anger and disbelief as they left their shift after the news was announced, Ananova reports.

Union officials have pledged to fight the plan to end Vectra car production and say there is no need for Vauxhall to make such a drastic decision.

Vauxhall says the redundancy costs will be significant but adds that its aim is to avoid compulsory job losses.

A total of 5,000 jobs are being axed by Vauxhall across Europe, including positions in Germany, which will reduce manufacturing capacity. An in-depth study of capacity has started and additional decisions in Europe could be taken.

Pravin Panchal, 45, who has worked at the plant for 22 years, says he is shocked, adding: "It's going to be a different Christmas for everyone.

"People will take a dim view about Christmas this year and will be wise not to spend too much when they go shopping. "

Liam Murphy, 21, from Luton, who has worked at the plant since leaving school, has only just finished his apprenticeship. "Everyone is really shocked," he said. "I don't think anyone knows exactly what's going on."

The company says the future of the Ellesmere Port plant is not in doubt as it will continue to build the highly successful Astra model.

The Luton factory built 146,000 cars last year, over half for export, but its future will now centre on building vans for Vauxhall, Opel and Renault.

Vauxhall had previously announced plans to invest £189 million in the UK, mainly to build the new van and transfer production of the Frontera - a 4x4 off-road vehicle - to Ellesmere Port, although £32 million was earmarked for structural changes at Luton.