Chrysler Group expects an operating profit this year if it reaches a global sales target of 1.65m vehicles, CEO Sergio Marchionne said.

"If you can say 2010 is going to be better than 2009 you can breathe a sigh of relief," Marchionne said at the Detroit show. "We're through the tunnel. The key now is not to fall back in to the same bad habits."

Chrysler sold 1.3m units worldwide last year as US sales dropped to 987,000 units - the lowest since 1962.

Marchionne forecast a modest increase to 1.1m vehicles in the US with remaining growth from Canada, Mexico and other markets.

The numbers cited by Marchionne suggested Chrysler's restructuring had substantially lowered its break-even point, news agency AFP noted.

"We're on the money with our five year plan," Marchionne said, adding that he thought recent criticism of Chrysler's lack of new products unfair since the automaker emerged from bankruptcy only last summer.

"This is a great car company... it's been just through a lot," Marchionne said. "You can't undo history. You just inherit all of it."

He said one reason why Chrysler did not host any product press conferences at the show was to address its "credibility problem."

"I haven't shown one single car I don't intend to launch," he said, referring to previous management displaying several models that were never going to reach production last year.

"I'm not going to gamble the reputation of this leadership. Lots of people over promise in this business. We're going to be humble," he said.

Chrysler lacked direction prior to its bankruptcy and was "allowed to drift," Marchionne said. "It lost its pride, which is the most damaging thing you can do to an organisation. What we've provided in the last six or seven months is a sense of direction."

Chrysler would pay back the government loan that helped it restructure under bankruptcy protection but loans made to Chrysler's predecessor company were not the responsibility of the 'new Chrysler' and would not be repaid, Marchionne said, adding: "What happens to those old loans doesn't concern me."