EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ New Process Gear will lay off 1,150 workers for a week because of temporary shutdowns at auto assembly plants operated by DaimlerChrysler, NPG's major customer and co-owner.

The layoffs, which affect about a third of NPG's 3,700 employees, mark the fourth time in three months the company has laid off workers because of slipping car and truck sales. However, for the first time, company officials hinted Friday that indefinite layoffs may follow if sales do not soon improve.

``If the trend continues, we will have no choice but to take a reduction of indefinite duration,'' Human Resources Manager Tony Sgarlata said. ``This is not a good way to start a year.''

It is expected the temporary layoffs will last one week, Sgarlata said.

DaimlerChrysler expects its Chrysler division to lose $1.25 billion in the final quarter of the year and DaimlerChrysler has ordered production cut by 50,000 vehicles.

New Process Gear makes transfer cases, the parts that convert a two-wheel drive vehicle into four-wheel drive; compounders, which add a fifth gear to automatic transmissions; and transaxles.

This round of layoffs will affect workers on lines that make transfer cases for Jeep and Dodge Ram vehicles and some General Motors truck lines, Sgarlata said.

New Process Gear indefinitely laid off 270 workers in October. It followed in November and December with temporary weeklong and two-week long layoffs affecting about 1,000 workers.