IAA: Leapmotor is looking to come to Europe

Leapmotor is coming to Europe – with two vehicles. At the IAA, the Chinese car manufacturer confirmed that Germany is also on the expansion plan at the IAA.

By next year, Leapmotor aims to have two for the European market certified electric cars – the TO3, which is already available in France, and the C10, unveiled at the IAA. After that, the manufacturer wants to present a new vehicle for Europe every year.

So far, the Chinese are only talking about “Europe”. Leapmotor says it has yet to decide which markets will be first on the list. “We do not have the resources to move into all markets at the same time,” said Matt Lei, who heads international business for Leapmotor, during a conversation with journalists in Munich. But Germany is a very interesting market, he added. Moreover, Leapmotor is already doing some trials with the TO3 in France.

Lei refused to comment on the price, saying that when the time comes, the manufacturer will “determine a fair price” for its vehicles and that it will be similar to that of an internal combustion car with the same equipment.

“We are determined to expand into this market,” Lei stressed again. The manufacturer sees great potential for its vehicles in Europe, also to fill a “gap” here.

“The supply of vehicles does not match the customers’ demand,” Lei explained. “We intend to better understand customers’ expectations and deliver products to meet their demand. Of course, competition is fierce in Europe. But we are doing our best to understand this market, the customer, and offer the best fitting product.”

But that’s not where Leapmotor’s plans end – even if the manufacturer fails to give definitive answers. Nevertheless, Lei hints (after consulting his Chinese-speaking colleagues sitting next to him at the table at the press conference) that Leapmotor could open a production facility in Europe. Lei explained that they are looking closely at the market, while stressing that a European factory is not a priority. After all, Leapmotor is a start-up and, therefore, has limited financial resources.

The new C10 pulls up in Munich

Leapmotor’s new electric SUV, the C10, is the manufacturer’s first vehicle based on the new e-platform Leap 3.0, which Leapmotor also presented at the IAA in Munich.

That means the electric car has an oil-cooled electric drive, the “intelligent cockpit with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip, and a leading intelligent driving system.” The manufacturer does not get more specific, at least not about the new vehicle.

When it comes to its platform, Leapmotor goes into more detail. For example, 88 per cent of the components used are interchangeable and can thus be used for all vehicles based on the platform, which should reduce development and production costs. The oil-cooled electric drive just mentioned has an output of 170 kW to 250 kW and is suitable for both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. “The incorporation of high-voltage silicon carbide technology into the flat wire oil-cooling electric drive achieves a comprehensive efficiency of 92%, all while weighing only 76kg,” the company writes in its media statement.

Regarding the battery, the manufacturer relies on cell-to-chassis technology (CTC), which means that the battery cell is housed directly in the vehicle body and not in a battery module. According to Leapmotor, this should improve the battery’s range, performance and safety. The new E/E architecture “Four-Leaf Clover” is supposed to be the “watershed from electric control vehicle to intelligent mobility,” and for the first time “seamlessly integrates” the cockpit, pilot, energy supply and vehicle body domains.

Leapmotor seeks cooperations

The Chinese are open to partnerships. Mat Lei emphasised this during the press conference, and the company printed it black on white in the press release published after the presentation of the Leap 3.0 platform, which was held in Chinese. There, it says the company offers four technology cooperation models, from key components to entire vehicles.

Rumours have been circulating for a few weeks that Volkswagen and Stellantis are negotiating a partnership with Leapmotor. According to this, VW could use Leapmotor’s technology, specifically the openly mentioned E/E architecture “Four-Leaf Clover.” Together with the FAW-operated car brand Jetta, it could be used in low-priced EVs in China. What a possible cooperation with Stellantis might look like, or which brand of the car company it might be under, is not yet known. Stellantis is reportedly considering investing in a Chinese EV maker or a business partnership to help the group grow in China.

Leapmotor would not confirm these rumours. The head of the international business division also cleverly avoided the question of whether a cooperation with a Western brand in China could facilitate entry into the European market, emphasising once again: “We are open to cooperation, especially cooperation in the field of technology.”


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