Ford may stay away from next October's London Motor Show, and so produce the biggest threat yet to the long-term future of the event.
Major European manufacturers including Volkswagen and Peugeot have decided to boycott Earl's Court and put all their UK show money into the Birmingham event in 2002.
Ian McAllister, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: “We have not yet made a decision. We might see the London show as an opportunity, with so many manufacturers pulling out.
“But we may decide people will not bother to go, because manufacturers like Peugeot and VW will not be there. I don't know whether the UK market is strong enough for a motor show once a year.”
The SMMT, seeking cost cuts, takes a share of London show profits. It has made four senior staff redundant including Phil Jones, who as head of exhibitions was 'Mr Motor Show'.
Finance director Roger Neal, head of membership Adrian Walsh and marketing manager Isobel Bearn have also left.