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.

Ford’s big move is to make Volvo more independent and then offer it up to a suitable bidder. And it would have to be very suitable. Ford doesn’t want its technical know-how to fall into the hands of developing–world rivals

So what will GM’s turnaround plan be? Sources say that the GM board discussed a scheme yesterday that could see Saab, Pontiac and Saturn axed in return for securing the Federal bailout.

Imagine the dilemma for the Swedish Government. By the end of the week, both the country’s car makers could be up for sale, in a world short of credit and tumbling headlong into recession.

With 2009 set to be another apocalyptic year for global car industry, who could dare to predict the landscape 12 months from now?