DETROIT -- Of all the mergers and acquisitions that have been rumored lately in the global auto industry, the possible marriage of DaimlerChrysler AG and Nissan Motor Co. is the most intriguing.

But does it make any sense?On one side is DaimlerChrysler, born of the megamerger of Chrysler Corp. and Germany's Daimler-Benz AG. Only 2 months old, it's still deep in the mire of combining its vast operations and creating a new corporate culture distinct from that of its German and American ancestors.

Then there's Nissan. Once one of Japan's biggest success stories, Nissan today is struggling to survive under an estimated $22 billion in debt. Faced with this sea of red ink in a consolidating industry, Nissan's leaders are looking for help.

Last week, each side publicly flirted with one other. DaimlerChrysler co-chairman Juergen Schrempp hinted that his company's considering a stake in Nissan. Nissan President Yoshikazu Hanawa was quoted as saying Nissan would seriously consider a DaimlerChrysler proposal.

This week, Schrempp and co-chairman Robert J. Eaton plan to visit Tokyo for a long-planned Mercedes-Benz event. A meeting of Schrempp and Hanawa reportedly is scheduled.

Daimler and Nissan officials have been in talks since before the DaimlerChrysler merger about a possible deal involving Nissan's commercial truck unit, Nissan Diesel Motor Co. Reports that DaimlerChrysler was considering a larger investment in Nissan itself surfaced last month.

Before the merger with Daimler-Benz, Chrysler was approached more than once with proposals to buy into Nissan, and Eaton rejected the idea as too risky, said a former Chrysler executive, speaking on condition of anonymity. Ford Motor Co. reportedly rejected a 20 percent stake last year.

In theory, a DaimlerChrysler-Nissan alliance could position DaimlerChrysler to better compete against Ford, General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG, which have more extensive investments in China and other Asian developing markets.