An employee at Nissan Motor works on an assembly line.
An employee at Nissan Motor works on an assembly line. - 
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: And Chrysler wants to know, what's in a name? The carmaker's owners say they're considering having Nissan or another car company design vehicles that would be sold under the Chrysler brand. As Marketplace's Bob Moon reports, it could help Detroit's Number Three automaker turn a profit.

Bob Moon: Chrysler's top manufacturing executive says the company's actively seeking alliances with other automakers -- as he explains it -- to "generate cash as a smaller company."

David Cole heads Michigan's Center for Automotive Research. He says the move makes sense, since Chrysler's no longer part of Germany's Daimler. That makes it hard to get a return on expensive research and development -- especially for some models that sell just a few hundred thousand a year.

David Cole: Many of their vehicles, certainly this is true of passenger cars, are relatively low volume and they're competing, for example, with a Toyota or a Honda or a General Motors where they'll have scale of over a million units.

The answer may be something the industry has dubbed "coop-etition" -- perhaps having Nissan build a small car for Chrysler, while Chrysler makes trucks for Nissan. But if that's such a good idea, why not just merge?

Cole: This may be a forerunner to that. That's a much more comprehensive kind of thing, but it's kind of like, before you get married, usually dating is good.

Chrysler may need to think out of the box. Its sales have dropped 23 percent since the year began.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.