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Stellantis to buy stake in Chinese EV start-up Leapmotor

BEIJING (AFP) – Global carmaker Stellantis said yesterday it will buy a 20 per cent stake in Chinese electric car maker Leapmotor, making it the latest European brand seeking a foothold in the country’s highly competitive market via partnerships with local manufacturers.

Hangzhou-based Leapmotor only produces electric vehicles (EVs) and is relatively unknown in Europe, despite selling 10,000 cars a month in China, while Stellantis is one of the world’s largest carmakers, owning popular brands including Alfa Romeo and Jeep.

Under the deal, the Netherlands-based firm will spend EUR1.5 billion (USD1.6 billion) on the stake in Leapmotor.

The two firms will also establish a Stellantis-led joint venture, Leapmotor International, which will hold “exclusive rights for the export and sale, as well as manufacturing, of Leapmotor products outside Greater China”, Stellantis said.

“As consolidation unfolds among the capable EVs start-ups in China, it becomes increasingly apparent that a handful of efficient and agile new generation EV players, like Leapmotor, will come to dominate the mainstream segments in China,” Stellantis Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said in a statement.

“It’s the perfect time to take a leading role in supporting the global expansion plans of Leapmotor, one of the most impressive new EV players who has a similar tech-first, entrepreneurial mindset to ours,” he said.

With 200 vehicles on French roads since last spring, Leapmotor is seeking to clear regulatory hurdles from the European Union in order to deploy more widely in France – its first target market in Europe.

The Stellantis sign outside the Chrysler Technology Center in Michigan, United States. PHOTO: AP