The recently announced alliance to be forged with Fiat notwithstanding, Chrysler's current position in the market is regarded as precarious by buyers and analysts alike. Vice Chairman Jim Press is more optimistic, however, stating that Chrysler will be 'viable' during the first half of the year.

He carefully defines viability as the ability to avoid bankruptcy and develop new products, reports MSNBC, but he cautions that profitability is still too far off to predict.

The viability claim - definitionally tenuous though it may be - rests on an assumption of just 10 million cars being sold in the U.S. in 2009. That's a fairly low-ball estimate by anyone's standards, and therefore lends some hope to those that would like to see Chrysler succeed. And at this point, the whole industry is rooting for every participant, because a failure of a single major carmaker could have repercussions throughout the supply chain, and around the globe.

Bright spots in Chrysler's current market situation include a 10.1% market share as of January 22, the company's highest in months. That despite sales plummeting as much as 53% in December.

The sales fall-offs have led to equivalent production cuts, with Chrysler falling behind Toyota in North American vehicle production for the first time ever due to a 50.8% draw down in output on the continent.

The recent tie-up with Fiat is expected to yield a bevy of efficient and attractive new products for Chrysler, but that will take at least two years to get up to full speed. In the mean time, Chrysler will have to forge ahead with its own restructuring and product plan.