Visteon Corp. is offering its white-collar workers up to 52 weeks of salary to cut its ranks of salaried workers by 400 or more.
The financially challenged auto supplier laid out the details of its buyout program Monday in an email from Jim Orchard, president of North American operations, to 8,100 salaried workers.
If not enough workers take the buyout, Visteon will likely resort to job cuts.
Chuck Hudson, Visteon's director of corporate human relations, warned in an e-mail to white-collar workers last week that a shortage of volunteers would be unacceptable. He wrote that Visteon would have to "assess other options required to achieve an affordable cost structure, which may include involuntary separations."
The former parts making operation of Ford Motor Co. is urgently trying to get its house in order to stem a four-year streak of losing money. The supplier of steering, chassis electrical and engine management systems posted a $1.36 billion loss in the third quarter.
Visteon depends on Ford for about 70 percent of its sales. But Visteon, which ranks No. 2 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 suppliers to North America with North American original-equipment automotive parts sales of $11.08 billion in 2003, has been hurt by rising material costs and lower vehicle production this year.
Visteon CFO James Palmer hinted at big changes when he told analysts in a conference call last month that Visteon has "heavy lifting to do." Analysts expect layoffs and plant closings.
The actual number of buyouts is unclear because of the uncertainty Visteon faces in the fourth quarter.
The timing of the buyout offer mystifies some observers. Most of the 3,000 employees scheduled to move from the company's original headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., to a new building in Van Buren Township, Mich., already have relocated.
Staff Reporter Robert Sherefkin contributed to this report.