Stellantis and Leapmotor JV to be based in the Netherlands

Following the official announcement a few days ago of Stellantis' entry into the Chinese electric car manufacturer Leapmotor, there are new details about the planned joint venture Leapmotor International, including initial sales targets and the organisational embedding of the new company.

Image: Leapmotor

Stellantis announced last week that it would invest in Leapmotor, acquiring a 20 per cent stake in the Chinese company for €1.5 billion. The deal is intended to boost sales of Leapmotor in China – and in Europe – and also includes the creation of a joint venture called Leapmotor International.

It is already known that Stellantis will hold 51 per cent and Leapmotor 49 per cent of the joint venture. The two sides also announced last week that the joint venture would have “exclusive rights to export, sell and manufacture Leapmotor products outside Greater China”.

Now further key points have become public: According to the annual report on Stellantis’ latest quarterly figures, the joint venture aims to sell 500,000 e-cars outside China by 2030. Within China, Leapmotor wants to sell one million electric cars per year in the long term.

In addition, Leapmotor International will be based in the Netherlands and will become another Stellantis Group brand for low-cost e-cars. The joint venture will target consumers “who are cost-conscious but want the best technology in their products”, Stellantis CFO Natalie Knight is quoted as saying by the portal “Automotive News”. “By working with Leapmotor, we will be able to achieve even better real-time benchmarks so we always know what it takes to win against the best competitors in the market,” Knight said.

Stellantis has seen its global BEV sales increase 37 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2023, driven by the Jeep Avenger, Citroën Ami, Peugeot E-208, Fiat 500 electric and Citroën ë-Berlingo models. In China, however, the group is struggling. Last year, the group closed its only joint venture plant in China, which it had operated together with GAC – after a takeover attempt by Stellantis failed. The company blamed this on the increasing interference of Chinese politicians in the economy.

So now a new start is being made with Leapmotor International. A newly created “liaison office” will take over coordination between the two sides with immediate effect. Stellantis manager Grégoire Olivier is responsible for the new office and reports in this function to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares. He will also serve as a board member of Leapmotor, his employer informs. “Grégoire Olivier is expected to ensure the implementation of the new strategic partnership, including the creation of the sales joint venture and coordination with Leapmotor on the use of Stellantis’ sales and distribution resources,” it says. Olivier was previously chief operating officer of Stellantis in China. This position will now be filled by Doug Ostermann, who will also become a member of Leapmotor’s board of directors.

Stellantis’ plan is to use Leapmotor’s “highly innovative, cost-efficient EV ecosystem” in China, which, as has been leaked in advance, probably means the Chinese manufacturer’s Leap 3.0 platform. The latter was presented at the IAA in Munich in September. At the premiere, Leapmotor already emphasised that it was open to cooperation, as the company not only wanted to build cars, but also to become “a provider of core technologies for electric vehicles”, as Zhu Jiangming, CEO of Leapmotor, put it at the time.

Exports via Leapmotor International to Europe are expected to start in the second half of 2024. Among other things, this should help Stellantis to achieve its goals defined in the Dare Forward 2030 strategy. All of the carmaker’s brands are to sell only electric cars in Europe from 2030. In the USA, the targeted BEV share of sales of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (including pickups) is 50 per cent.


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