An unsourced report in a Japanese business newspaper at the weekend claimed Nissan Motor and Chrysler are talking about an alliance to supply cars for North America.

Nissan would supply small cars while Chrysler reciprocated with medium and large vehicles, including pickup trucks, the Nikkei said.

"We cannot comment on the report based on speculation," Nissan spokeswoman Pauline Kee told The Associated Press. Kee added, however, Nissan was open to a potential partnership.

The news agency noted that Nissan/Renault chief Carlos Ghosn said at the Tokyo motor show in October that he remained interested in a partnership with a major US automaker.

Speculation has been also growing that Chrysler and Ford may be looking for partners as they struggle to restructure their operations and boost profits, AP added.

The Nikkei said Nissan is seeking to supply its Versa compact car models, while obtaining pickup and minivan models through Chrysler.

Nissan builds the Versa in Mexico for sale in North America under its own brand and already has its own large pickup and minivan model lines, specially designed for North America and both built in the southern US.

Neither has been hugely successful so the possibility of model-sharing with Chrysler would reduce the development times and manufacturing costs of their replacements.

Chrysler already has some model-sharing deals in place - it will buy a subcompact line from China's Chery, most likely for sale worldwide as a Dodge, and is soon to start building rebadged versions of its new minivan models for Volkswagen to sell in North America.