Amid Tough Times, Chrysler CEO Optimistic

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Chrysler wowed audiences at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit when it unveiled an electric concept car called the Chrysler 200C EV. And chief executive Robert Nardelli says he is confident his embattled company will be around to see the vehicle move from concept to preproduction.

"If you look at Chrysler, we were never that big relative to certainly the others in Detroit, but the fact is we've lost less share over the past decade," Nardelli tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "We're facing the same adversity that all auto manufacturers are facing relative to a downward spiraling economy ... that's really impacting our consumers' ability to buy our vehicle."

Some people say the reason that Chrysler isn't for sale is because no one wants to buy it in the current economic climate.

Nardelli says this isn't true. He points out that the company has forged alliances to produce all of Volkswagen's minivans, that it will be the single-source producer for all Nissan trucks by 2011, and that it is already producing trucks for Mitsubishi.

"I would say that the general perception out there that we have been rejected is not true," Nardelli says. "To go through a massive merger with one of the other manufacturers, maybe the time was just not right."

He says the company's owners, Cerberus Capital Management LP, are very open to options.

"They have publicly said that if it means a reapportionment of the equity, they are more than willing to do that as part of our restructuring plan," Nardelli says.

Chrysler has already received a $4 billion injection from the federal government, and Nardelli is due on Capitol Hill on Feb. 17 to borrow an additional $3 billion, which he says it needs to survive.

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