Daimler's (DAIGn.DE) chief executive told German newspaper Bild that the auto maker would perform better in 2010 and was set to achieve significantly more than 4 billion euros ($5.71 billion) in savings in 2009.

Dieter Zetsche told Bild in an interview published on Friday that there were currently no plans for forced layoffs at Stuttgart-based auto maker.

Daimler, like other auto makers, is trying to adapt to a global slump in demand and has announced a raft of savings measures including cutting working hours.

Global vehicle sales at Daimler's premium Mercedes Car Group fell 17.5 percent in the first seven months of the year, while sales at its market-leading trucks business plunged 48 percent in the first half.

Around a quarter of Daimler's 160,000 staff in German car, truck and parts plants are already on short hours, a scheme in which the government helps subsidize pay for affected workers as a way to avoid layoffs.

Zetsche appeared to rule out a joint venture with General Motors unit Opel.

We are also speaking to volume auto makers. But Opel doesn't offer advantages compared with other options, he said in response to a question asking whether Opel was an attractive partner for developing smaller cars.

Asked whether Porsche and Daimler held merger talks, Zetsche told Bild: Mr. Wiedeking and myself did, of course, as Stuttgart-based auto makers talk from time to time, but there wasn't more than that.

Unlike rival BMW, Daimler expects to continue in Formula One motor racing, Zetsche said, adding that he saw possibilities for remaining in the sport in a more cost efficient manner.

Asked whether he would like to continue as Daimler chief, Zetsche said: Of course. His contract expires in 2010, and a formal decision to extend the contract has yet to be taken by the Daimler supervisory board.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor, editing by Will Waterman)

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