Friday, April 18, 2008

Chrysler's deal with Nissan aimed at international growth, Nardelli tells SAE


Chrysler’s announcement earlier this week to team up with Nissan to produce pickup trucks and small cars is part of the automaker’s strategy to pump up its small-car lineup and its international expansion, Chrysler LLC Chairman Bob Nardelli said Thursday night, according to a draft of his speech acquired by the Free Press.

“Expanding our global business also makes us stronger in our home market, because it helps balance out the ups and downs in the North American economy,” Nardelli was planning to say.

Under the deal announced Monday, Nissan will use its Oppama Plant in Japan to build a Chrysler-designed small car for the Auburn Hills automaker to sell in North America, Europe and elsewhere beginning in 2010. Chrysler plans to use its Saltillo, Mexico, plant to assemble a Nissan-designed pickup for the Japanese automaker to sell in North America starting in 2011.

“This small car will bring us into a new segment and will help us meet increased demand for better fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions,” Nardelli was to say in his first public comments about the Nissan deal.

Nardelli’s speech was scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Center as the keynote address of SAE 2008 World Congress, a four-day conference for automotive engineers.

The Nissan agreement is just one of several pending or potential partnerships between Chrysler and other automakers.

In January, Nissan and Chrysler agreed to a deal in which Nissan will build a small car based on the Nissan Versa for Chrysler to sell under one of its brands in Brazil in 2009.

The German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported Tuesday that Chrysler and Fiat Group are in talks for the U.S. company to make vehicles for Fiat subsidiary Alfa Romeo in its U.S. plants.

Chrysler also is working with Chery Automobile Co. on a deal that would have the Chinese company build small cars for Chrysler to sell under its own brand in markets around the world.

The deals also help Chrysler gain global scale. Chrysler, the smallest of the Detroit Three, operates 14 assembly plants, 10 powertrain plants, three stamping operations and seven technical centers — all in North America.

It also has seven manufacturing affiliates outside of North America.

“Alliances and partnerships play a big part in this international expansion,” Nardelli was to say Thursday night.

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