DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler LLC's chairman and CEO said Thursday night that he's open to more partnerships like one announced this week expanding the automaker's car- and truck-building alliance with Nissan Motor Co.
He said such deals are key in Chrysler's plans to sell vehicles in growing markets worldwide.
''We're always looking for opportunities,'' Robert Nardelli told reporters following a speech to about 1,300 people at the Society of Automotive Engineers banquet. He added, ''Our ability to meet the emerging market demands as quickly as we can would suggest we should look at partnerships and alliances, and that's what we did.''
The agreement with Nissan is part of a tightening relationship between Chrysler and the No. 3 Japanese automaker as they attempt to adapt to a U.S. market buffeted by the economic slowdown and rising gas prices. Such partnerships, he said, will allow Chrysler to meet demand in the compact car segment, where it has a void in its lineup.
''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 said in his speech. ''Alliances and partnerships play a big part in this international expansion.''
Nardelli said Chrysler remains on track through the first quarter in meeting its performance targets for this year set by Cerberus Capital Management LP, the New York-based private equity firm that acquired Chrysler in 2007.
''We are very pleased, in spite of some of the economic winds that are hitting us,'' Nardelli told reporters after the speech. But he reiterated that Chrysler doesn't expect to be profitable on an operational basis by the end of the year.
On Monday, Nissan said it will make a new small car designed by Chrysler and Chrysler will make a full-size pickup truck designed by Nissan. Both products will be sold in North America, and the new Chrysler subcompact will also be sold in Europe and other global markets starting in 2010.
In January, the companies announced a deal for Nissan to supply versions of its Versa subcompact for Chrysler to sell in South America. No financial details were disclosed for either agreement.
In Nardelli's remarks on the final day of the four-day SAE 2008 World Congress in Detroit, he also highlighted plans to establish global centers to strengthen planned long-term international growth. Those centers will support design, engineering, manufacturing and distribution.
''Working with strategic partners, we are expanding our presence in China, India, Mexico and Russia,'' Nardelli told the crowd.