Stellantis’ JV approved, gaining exclusive rights to build and sell Leapomotor EVs outside of China

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Stellantis’ JV approved, gaining exclusive rights to build and sell Leapomotor EVs outside of China


Five months after signing a proposed joint venture with EV automaker Leapmotor, Stellantis has reportedly gained regulatory approval in China to continue its stake. This deal is the first of its kind for a Western automaker and gives Stellantis the exclusive rights to build, export, and sell Leapmotor brand EVs outside of China, and it is already mulling some exciting markets for them.

Today’s report is the latest milestone in a joint venture process that began in October 2022, when Stellantis claimed a $1.6 billion stake (21%) in Leapmotor – a prominent automaker in China. The proposed joint venture gave Stellantis a 51% stake in the JV with the goal of expanding its portfolio of lower cost EVs in markets of Europe.

Following the initial signing by both automakers, Stellantis said the venture was targeting 500,000 EV sales outside of the Chinese market by the end of the decade. By mid-February, Stellantis shared more details of its plans for the joint venture, explaining intentions to build Leapmotor EVs in Turin, Italy, to serve EU markets – targeting 150,000 units annually to begin.

While seeing OEMs from separate continents collaborate on EVs is nothing new, those partnerships usually pertain to sales in the Chinese market. More and more EV imports are making their way into China at affordable prices, stirring up concerns from local automakers and their respective governments.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares (never one to pull any punches) clapped back, stating that if EU governments try to block the sale of EVs built in China, the auto conglomerate will assemble them elsewhere, possibly in North America.

We will have to see how this all plays out as Stellantis’ joint venture with Leapmotor has reportedly been approved, paving the way for the right to start assembling those EVs wherever it wants outside of China.

Stellantis Leapmotor

Stellantis closer to building EVs in China for the EU

Per Reuters, two sources familiar with the matter state that a regulator in China has approved the Stellantis Leapmotor joint venture. One source elaborated, saying the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in China has given its blessing, but the deal’s regulatory approval in other markets is still pending.

In an industry first for Western automakers, Stellantis gains the exclusive rights to build, export, and sell Leapmotor EVs outside of China. Leapmotor told Reuters the JV will begin with its all-electric C10 model, which is expected to begin sales in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain soon.

The Chinese automaker also shared that its first EV shipments to Europe could come as early as the second half of 2024. Rising tensions between Europe and China over low-cost EVs will play a huge factor in how this joint venture shakes out and whether Stellantis decides to take assembly of the Leapmotor vehicles onto its own turf or even North America to work around and export hurdles and retroactive tariffs being threatened.

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