Ford Motor Co. plans to eliminate about 4,000 white-collar jobs in North America early next year as part of what the automaker has called a painful but essential restructuring plan.

Spokesman Tom Hoyt said the cuts, which will be made in part through attrition and elimination of some agency and contract positions, were outlined Friday in an e-mail to employees from Mark Fields, president for the Americas.

The cuts are expected to be made during the first quarter of 2006, Hoyt said Saturday.

They will be in addition to 2,750 North American salaried jobs that Ford earlier said it wanted to cut by the end of 2005. Ford started the year with about 35,000 salaried workers in North America, Hoyt said.

The move is the latest in a series of shake-ups and cost-cutting moves at the Dearborn-based automaker, which reported a third-quarter loss of $284 million. In North America, it lost $1.2 billion before taxes.

Ford and other U.S. automakers have been hurt by competition from Asia as well as high health care and materials costs and bloated plant capacity.