Italian auto giant Fiat is planning to ask US rival General Motors if it can buy GM’s troubled German subsidiary Opel for a “symbolic” price, Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Friday.

Fiat made a bid for Opel in 2009 but the plan never materialised and General Motors instead allied itself with France's PSA Peugeout Citroen - a partnership that could be an obstacle for Fiat's proposal, the report said.

Il Sole 24 Ore, which did not cite its sources, said Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne intended to buy Opel “basically for nothing”.

SMALL-CAR SAVINGS

Marchionne has already engineered a merger with Chrysler after the US giant emerged from bankruptcy and he is now also the head of Chrysler.

A partnership between Fiat and Opel, which are both suffering from plunging car sales in Europe, would allow savings in the design and production of small cars -- something that Fiat cannot do with Chrysler, the daily said.

The operation could however lead to major practical problems, such as how to deal with excess capacity in a context of crisis for the industry, it added. - AFP