updated 4/5/2005 4:58:06 PM ET 2005-04-05T20:58:06

Ford Motor Co., the nation’s second biggest automaker, will try to eliminate about 1,000 salaried jobs by this summer as part of a voluntary buyout program, the company said Tuesday.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said the buyout packages will be offered to employees who are eligible to retire as well as some employees who aren’t yet eligible.

“It’s going to be based on business needs, and employees will be asked if they want to volunteer or not,” Evans said.

Evans said eligible employees will be notified by the end of this month. Employees who take the offer will leave by June 30, she said.

The program will affect employees at Ford as well as Ford Motor Credit Co. There are a total of 45,000 salaried employees at both companies, Evans said.

Evans said Ford last offered a buyout in 2003, when it cut about 3,000 jobs through voluntary buyouts and layoffs. The company also offered buyouts to around 5,000 employees in 2002.

Ford said last week U.S. sales of cars and trucks are down 3.8 percent so far this year. The company also reported a 5 percent decline in March sales.

No. 1 General Motors Corp. announced in December it was offering similar buyout packages to its salaried employees.

GM spokesman Robert Herta wouldn’t say how many people had accepted the offers, but GM expects attrition rates in 2005 to be similar to those in recent years. About 1,000 salaried employees have left GM in each of the past three years, Herta said.

Once this round of buyouts is completed, GM “is going to continue to evaluate how we will further align our work force with business needs,” Herta said.

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