In another sign of how the coronavirus pandemic has hit the global auto industry with the force of a supercar driving into a brick wall, BMW has confirmed that it is to shed upwards of 6 000 jobs.

These will affect mainly its German workforce, but will also impact certain other employees in other parts of the world. Worldwide, BMW employs around 120 000 people.

According to industry sources, the Bavarian-based auto giant is also expected to decline new contracts for temporary workers, which could bring the total number of jobs shed to nearer 10 000.

“Further steps are needed to make the BMW Group more resilient to external influences and market fluctuations,” the company said in a statement, adding that it aims “to achieve planned workforce reductions through attrition and voluntary agreements”.

The cuts had previously been mooted, but have now been signed off buy the important German Works Council.

Other cost-cutting strategies already implemented by BMW include cutting two hours a week for some workers and granting others an extra eight days’ holiday per year in exchange for accepting lower pay.

The pandemic has seen vehicle sales crash around the world. In the important European market, auto sales for the first five months of 2020 are more than 41% down on the same period in 2019.

According to the industry publication Auto Times, sales in Germany fell by 35%, in France by 48.5%, in Italy by 50.4%, and in Spain by 54.2%.

“A shrinking car market, a costly transition to electric power and harsh new EU penalties for excessive CO2 emissions were all already sapping Germany’s flagship industrial sector before pandemic lockdowns bit,” news agency AFP said.

In an interview circulated to BMW staff in April, global boss Oliver Zipse noted that: “Circumstances as serious as this can threaten the existence of even a large company.”