Chrysler LLC’s bankruptcy could end as early as Thursday afternoon, setting the stage for a production restart, if a judge agrees to expedite the appeals process.

The auto maker, which will become known as Chrysler Group LLC, has petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, to compress the standard 10-day window for addressing challenges.

Appeals have been launched by several stakeholders, most notably a pair of Indiana pension funds and a state construction fund that hold some $42.5 million in Chrysler debt.

If the auto maker were to exit this week, it would vindicate President Obama who was slammed for claiming the proceedings would conclude within 60 days. The president announced Chrysler Chapter 11 filing April 30 when he also agreed to commit some $6 billion in taxpayer-financed aid to the troubled auto maker.

The commitment was contingent on Chrysler establishing a partnership with another auto maker, because the Obama Admin. determined Chrysler was not viable on its own.

Consequently, an agreement struck with Fiat Auto Group was approved late Sunday by the bankruptcy court.

In another sign that it might soon be business as usual at Chrysler, union officials are being told to prepare for the resumption of production.

Output was halted when Chrysler entered bankruptcy.

Union sources tell Ward’s the auto maker has targeted June 29 to restart production at its plants in Sterling Heights, MI; Belvidere, IL and Windsor and Brampton, ON, Canada.

Output at Warren, MI, and St. Louis, MO – home to Chrysler’s flagship Dodge Ram pickup models – is set for July. However, the auto maker also intends to shut its entire operations for two weeks in July for the summer shutdown period.

Chrysler spokesman Max Gates declines comment on production plans.

Heading into bankruptcy, the auto maker reported an inventory of 336,913 vehicles – some 13,000 units less than its previous-month total. And that amount was 17% lower than like-2008, maintaining a steady downward trend.

Chrysler has aggressively been managing its inventory since Ward's uncovered in 2006 the existence of an unreported stockpile of vehicles that numbered up to 100,000.

Meanwhile, preliminary indications suggest May sales were stronger than expected.

Chrysler will report May delivery totals June 2.

emayne@wardsauto.com