“From today's perspective, not only will we not experience any more negative surprises in terms of the whole year, rather we could even have the chance to develop positively," Mr Zetsche told the Welt am Sonntag German newspaper.
Mr Zetsche said demand would stabilise at a low level this year with a very gradual recovery beginning in 2010 for certain markets and segments.
"One should not expect that in one year markets will be at the level of 2007," Mr Zetsche said in the interview.
The Daimler CEO added that he still considered it likely that talks to deepen ties with rival carmaker BMW would eventually lead to results that the two could present to markets.
Mr Zetsche denied German media reports that he was looking to acquire a stake in Porsche, reaffirming his statement from two years ago that there was no acquisition target he could see that would strengthen Daimler.
He said carmakers would see only a few defensive deals happen in which ailing competitors would look to save themselves by linking up with a stronger rival.
Mr Zetsche believes the number of carmakers will not decline as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has predicted, since new players are emerging in China and India.
He said: "This industry is too closely intertwined with national interests, which is the reason why it seldom follows the pure laws of the market.”