Could Stellantis soon produce EVs for Leapmotor?

According to an insider, Stellantis is looking into manufacturing electric cars for its new Chinese joint venture partner Leapmotor at its Italian plant in Mirafiori. Up to 150,000 units could be assembled there every year from 2026 or 2027.

Image: Leapmotor

This is reported by Automotive News Europe, citing a person familiar with the matter – and in line with other Italian media reports. According to the report, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said: “If we have the opportunity, because it would make economic sense, then of course we would produce Leapmotor vehicles in Italy.” According to the insider, Stellantis could start building up to 150,000 low-cost electric vehicles a year for Leapmotor in two or three years.

Stellantis announced in October 2023 that it was investing in Leapmotor and acquiring a 20 per cent stake in the Chinese company for 1.5 billion euros. The deal also included the establishment of a joint venture called Leapmotor International, of which Stellantis holds 51 and Leapmotor 49 per cent. Both parties also announced at the time that the joint venture would have “exclusive rights to export, sell and manufacture Leapmotor products outside Greater China.”

Leapmotor International is based in the Netherlands and will become another brand of the Stellantis Group for low-cost EVs. The joint venture aims to sell 500,000 electric cars outside China by 2030. Within China, Leapmotor aims to sell one million electric cars per year.

Stellantis has recently been able to increase its global BEV sales, 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.

It is now making a new attempt with Leapmotor International. A newly created “liaison office” took over the coordination between the two sides in October. Stellantis manager Grégoire Olivier is responsible for the new organisation and is also a member of the Leapmotor board. He was previously Chief Operating Officer of Stellantis in China.

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. (Paywall) via (in German)


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