It’s not surprising that Daimler has rushed to quash the suggestion by an analyst that it could – and should – take Opel off GM’s hands.

In the current economic situation no car maker wants to seen as a fairy godmother to other ailing brands. Even if, as Bernstein analyst Max Warburton suggests, Daimler might get Opel for free.

However, Warburton’s research note is based on the most rigorous logic. Mercedes' foray into small cars has been a financial disaster.

"Mercedes has an appalling record in small cars, having lost almost €7bn on the Smart and A-class, on our calculations" says Warburton and his two-woman team.

"While Mercedes' current plan is to go it alone with further costly small car expansion we believe a deal with Opel would offer a low (or zero) cost way to gain scale, small car capacity and lower cost technology – all based in Germany."

Warburton points out that after the first generation A-class failed to hit 200,000 annual sales and made significant losses as the factory ran below capacity.

The second-generation car was expanded to two models (A and B) and the sales estimate to raised to 300,000 units per year. That target was also missed. Mercedes, Warburton claims,is planning to expand the third-gen A-class to four models and the break-even figures will be jacked up again.