Stellantis will broaden its offering of low-priced battery-electric vehicles with models from Leapmotor starting late next year in Europe.
After Stellantis' deal to buy a stake in the Chinese electric vehicle maker, the group now has another brand aimed at consumers "who are cost conscious but want the best technology in their products," CFO Natalie Knight said, describing Leapmotor as Stellantis’ “15th brand.”
Stellantis and Leapmotor are establishing a joint venture incorporated in the Netherlands for the export and sale of Leapmotor's models outside China.
Knight said Europe will be the first market for Leapmotor's EVs, with sales and revenue “fully consolidated” into the Stellantis balance sheet.
The JV will also distribute Leapmotor products to other global markets, Knight said. It will have “long term” exclusivity on Leapmotor cars sold outside of China, she said.
The JV includes the option to build Leapmotor models in Europe, which could be an option if the EU imposes high tariffs on cars built in China, Knight said on Tuesday on the automaker’s third-quarter results call with analysts.
"You will see the Chinese position grow in the [European] market in some way, shape or form," she said. "Collaborating is a way to address that issue in a thoughtful way."
The European Commission has launched an investigation into Chinese government subsidies for EVs amid fears that Europe could be “flooded” with inexpensive cars built there.
Stellantis will invest about 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to acquire a 20 percent equity stake in Leapmotor's parent company. The two companies will set up a Dutch-based joint venture called Leapmotor International. It will be controlled by Stellantis, which will have a 51 percent stake.
The joint venture targets 500,000 sales outside of China by 2030, according to Stellantis's third-quarter results presentation, which also said that Leapmotor aims to sell 1 million units annually in China in the long term. Leapmotor delivered about 111,000 NEV units in China in 2022, Stellantis said.
Knight said that there were no plans to give the Leapmotor's new Four-Leaf Clover Leap 3.0 electric and electronic architecture to other Stellantis brands.