After long denying that it was considering selling Volvo, Ford says it will ‘explore its strategic options’ for the Swedish carmaker.

Ford is blaming a ‘significant decline in the global auto market and severe worldwide economic instability’ and that a review of its options ‘would take several months to complete’.

In the meantime, ‘Ford and Volvo will continue to put in place processes that allow Volvo to operate on a more stand-alone basis in the absence of the Premier Automotive Group structure.’

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are trying to get a serious loan - $12bn each, at least – from the US Government.

But two weeks ago the bosses of the Big Three carmakers were sent away by US senators to come up with new business plans before any taxpayer money is handed over.