Ailing carmaker Opel is considering launching an electric car for inner-city use to tap what it sees as a high-potential market, the firm's boss said in an interview Sunday.

"We are thinking about a small electric vehicle," the chief of the General Motors unit, Nick Reilly, told Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

"We believe there is strong potential for growth in cities across the world," he added, predicting that "various governments are going to provide fiscal support for this kind of vehicle."

An Opel spokesman said the new model -- which would be smaller than the Corsa -- was expected to be launched in three years, in both electric and conventional fuel versions.

Hit by falling sales, Opel this month unveiled a sweeping restructuring plan along with an appeal for countries that host Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall to stump up 2.7 billion euros in state aid.

By 2014 Opel has said it plans to invest 11 billion euros in new models and environmentally friendly technology such as electric powertrains.

Its first electric-only car, the Ampera, is scheduled for delivery in 2011. Its wheels are powered exclusively by an electric engine, with a small fuel engine integrated to recharge its batteries.

European Union industry ministers pressed the European Commission this month to devise a common strategy to develop electric cars, seen as both an environmental necessity and an opportunity for growth.

Current EU president Spain wants the electric car to feature in the EU's 2020 strategy, an economic reform project aimed at ensuring prosperity and sustainable growth for Europe.