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Stellantis teams with China's Leapmotor to sell EVs in Europe, Mideast, South America

Luke Ramseth, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

Stellantis NV said Tuesday that a new partnership with Chinese electric vehicle maker Leapmotor will allow it to quickly grow sales in Europe, the Middle East, South America and elsewhere starting later this year.

Stellantis, the transatlantic automaker with brands such as Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, Peugeot and Fiat, will take 51% ownership in the new Leapmotor International joint venture.

Last October the companies announced an initial arrangement that saw Stellantis buy a 21% stake in the Chinese startup, which was founded in 2015 and started selling cars in 2019.

The companies said they plan to "boost scale very quickly," first offering Leapmotor vehicles in September across Europe — in France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Belgium Greece, and Romania. Then, by the fourth quarter, the new venture will begin selling the cars in parts of the Middle East and Africa, including Turkey and Israel; in India and the Asia Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia; and in South America, including Brazil and Chile.

The aim is to provide more affordable options that can complement Stellantis' current vehicle portfolio, executives said.

Two Leapmotor models will initially be sold under the partnership: the T03, an affordable small hatchback, and the C10, an SUV. More vehicles will fill out the lineup starting next year.

 

“The creation of Leapmotor International is a great step forward in helping address the urgent global warming issue with state-of-the-art (battery electric) models that will compete with existing Chinese brands in key markets around the world,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in a statement. “Leveraging our existing global presence, we will soon be able to offer our customers price competitive and tech-centric electric vehicles that will exceed their expectations."

Zhu Jiangming, Leapmotor's founder, chairman and CEO, said the partnership signals "a new chapter in the global integration of China's intelligent electric vehicle industry,” adding the companies will work well together, given Leapmotor's more affordable products and Stellantis' existing sales channels, service and marketing around the world.

"We believe that this cooperation can give Leapmotor a boost to become a respected world-class intelligent electric vehicle company," the Chinese CEO said.

Stellantis and Leapmotor said they have secured all regulatory approvals for the new joint venture. It will be based in Amsterdam, same as Stellantis, and led by Tianshu Xin, a former Stellantis executive in the China market.

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