Friday, January 11, 2008

Chrysler closer to small-car deal

Japanese report claims progress with Nissan

Chrysler LLC and Nissan Motor Co. are in final talks about the Japanese company providing the Auburn Hills automaker with a small car, Japanese television network NHK is reporting.

A spokesman for Nissan confirmed today the companies are in talks but would not say whether the two are close to a deal.Chrysler has not confirmed that talks are ongoing. On Monday, Chrysler President Jim Press seemed to downplay the idea, calling it a rumor.

But he did stress the company's goal to form alliances. "We will continue to use the potential of affiliations to broaden our product line."

Chrysler has said foreign alliances are a crucial part of the automaker's plans to be successful and taken several steps to prepare such partnerships, including appointing executives to oversee them.

After being sold off by Daimler AG last year, Chrysler is primarily a U.S. automaker with a small footprint overseas.

Earlier this week, Chrysler said it sold nearly 240,000 vehicles outside of North America last year. In the United States, the company sold about 2.1 million vehicles.

NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, indicated that the talks were about a small car with a 1.8-liter engine.

Chrysler has already entered into an alliance with Chery Automobile Co. for the Chinese automaker to build small cars that will be sold under a Chrysler brand, likely Dodge.

Other media reports have recently said that Chrysler officials were in talks with officials at Gaz, a Russian automaker, and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., an Indian automaker.

Last week, Press said that some ideas brought to Chrysler are given too much emphasis.

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