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September 16, 2009

FRANKFURT (AP) — Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Wednesday that the new auto alliance can reach a production of 5.5 million to 6 million cars a year on its own once the economy and car markets stabilze.

"We will arrive alone at 6 million units. Between us and Chrysler, we will get there," Marchionne said on the sidelines of the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Marchionne has said that threshold is critical for an automaker's survival, creating speculation about whether Fiat was still looking around for other partners.

"Wait until November," Marchionne said, when Chrysler will release its full business plan showing where the company is going for the next five years. "You will see whether I get there on my own."

Fiat made an early bid for General Motor's European subsidiary Adam Opel GmbH, but pulled out of the talks saying funding demands were unreasonable. Marchionne gave no indication that Fiat is actively looking around at other automakers, and said in response to a question that he is not interesting in buying Volvo.

The Fiat and Chrysler groups delivered just over 4 million vehicles total in 2008, which saw a second half weakened by the crisis. Car deliveries this year have been skewed by demand resulting from cash-for-clunkers incentive programs in the United States and many European countries.

Marchionne declined to discuss the forthcoming model lineup ahead of the release of the new, post-bankruptcy business plan.

He did say that first Chrysler based on Fiat technology, an A class subcompact, will be on the market by the end of 2010.

Fiat Group SpA took a 20-percent controlling stake in Chrysler LLC in June as Chrysler went through bankruptcy restructuring, making Marchionne CEO of both groups. Fiat's successful offer hinged on contributing the small-car platforms and cleaner-burning engines lacking in the Chrysler mix, as well as its industrial know-how.

Fiat and Chrysler brands were showing in the same hall for the first time at this year's Frankfurt Auto Show, a first outward sign of the new alliance.

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