Indeed, industry consultancy Network Automotive says plans are already in place to cut staff.
Under threat are programmes such as public sector sales and Motability. These will be placed with external suppliers under plans by manufacturers.
MD Colin Bruder said: ‘The recession is placing manufacturers in a Catch-22 situation.
‘There are several new car sales sectors, and Motability is the best example, where they cannot afford to continue employing dedicated sales and marketing teams – but cannot afford to ignore the sales opportunities.’
Outsourcing, he says, is the solution. This removes permanent staff from the payroll – with external suppliers adding flexibility to the business.
‘In the current economic situation, outsourcing makes a huge amount of sense. The manufacturer is able to mount an effective sales and marketing campaign at a much reduced cost.’
The trend may even spread. ‘In the last few months, we have seen manufacturers approach us, to talk about everything from cleansing customer databases, to specialist fleet sales such as blue light.
‘Faced with a very tough new car market, they are looking to investigate every possible sales opportunity, but to do so at the most cost effective level, and many are concluding that the answer is outsourcing.’