BEIJING -- Volkswagen is in talks with Chinese electric vehicle startup Zhejiang Leapmotor Technology about the possibility of cooperation for VW's Jetta brand, a Chinese media outlet reported.
A joint venture between VW and state-owned Chinese automaker FAW Group could buy a platform of EV technologies from Leapmotor, according to the state-backed financial news website Cailianshe.
Leapmotor and VW China declined to comment. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the reported discussions between the companies.
Leapmotor unveiled on Monday a new platform it developed in-house for making vehicles, which CEO Zhu Jiangming said it wanted to license to other automakers.
He told reporters that Leapmotor was in advanced talks with two foreign companies about such a partnership, including a new player in the electric vehicle segment, which could produce Leapmotor-developed models in overseas markets.
AV and smart cockpit functions
Leapmotor says its new "Four Leaf Clover" architecture has an integrated computing platform capable of controlling all intelligent functions including an EV's autonomous driving and smart cockpit functions.
A senior Leapmotor engineer said at Monday's unveiling of the platform that the company had achieved cost savings with the architecture by reducing the use of controls and wire harnesses, and
Zhu said this would cut the materials cost per car by 500 yuan ($70).
The company is already planning to launch the platform's next generation in 2025, which would include improvements in computing capabilities and smart cockpits, Zhu said.
Zhu, a veteran electronics engineer who co-founded surveillance giant Dahua, launched Leapmotor in 2015 with the backing of investors including state-owned Shanghai Electric Group Corp and Hongshan, formerly known as Sequoia Capital China.
The company and its fellow Chinese EV startups have been struggling with losses and declining sales since U.S. rival Tesla started a price war at the beginning of the year.
Leapmotor employs more than 2,000 engineers and sold 44,500 units in the first half, 14 percent fewer than a year ago.
VW and Xpeng announced last week a partnership to jointly develop EVs on Xpeng's 'Edward' platform on which the Chinese startup's G9 is built.