One giant Leap: Stellantis' new EV partner | CAR Magazine

One giant Leap: Stellantis' new EV partner

Published: 15 May 2024 Updated: 15 May 2024

► Stellantis has partnered with Leapmotor
► Chinese EV brand set for European launch
►  New models due in UK next year

Big things are happening at the top of the electric vehicle food chain, as Stellantis has just announced a new partner to help expand its share of Europe’s cheap electric car market.

Last year, the motoring juggernaut purchased a chunk of Leapmotor, one of the biggest and now most important Chinese EV start-ups you’ve probably never heard of. That chunk was traded for a cool €1.5 billion (£1.3bn), establishing Stellantis’ goal of developing its EV reach and Leapmotor’s ambition to grow outside of China.

Fast forward seven months, and the two companies have just announced a new partnership to bring affordable EVs to Europe with a fresh company – Leapmotor International. They’ve even revealed a couple of models set to arrive next year.

All the requisite authorisations have been given. The lights are green and are systems are go. Read on for everything you need to know about Leapmotor International and the future of Stellantis EVs.

So, it’s a new company?

Leapmotor is a Chinese EV manufacturing firm, set up by electrical engineer Zhu Jiangming in 2015. With an emphasis on in-house development, Leapmotor’s remit covers a raft of different motoring technologies, including EV design, electric motor control and battery development.

The joint venture, Leapmotor International, will be led by Stellantis, but it’ll be a 49/51 partnership between the two firms. Leapmotor International won’t be registered as an official Stellantis brand since the parent company only owns a portion of Leapmotor, but a spokesperson has told us that Stellantis will put ‘the same effort’ into this brand as it does with those that it fully owns.

Two Leapmotor C10s front driving

Both companies are bringing an area of expertise to the table, with a hope they’ll engender a wholly symbiotic relationship and all in the interests of developing a slice of the European EV market for Leapmotor.

‘The partnership between Leapmotor and Stellantis demonstrates a high level of efficiency, opening a new chapter in the global integration of China’s intelligent electric vehicle industry,’ Leapmotor Founder, Chairman and CEO Jiangming Zhu said.

‘Leveraging Leapmotor’s cutting-edge technology and products, along with Stellantis’ support in areas such as overseas channels, services, and marketing, we hope that users around the world can experience the exceptional driving and riding experience brought by Leapmotor products.’

What could this mean for us?

Well, the whole point of the venture is to boost Leapmotor’s EV sales outside of its homeland. The Chinese start-up has said that its cars should be heading for Europe by September 2024, with a goal to expand its supply chain globally by the end of the year.  

Leapmotor, with its command of scaled-up EV production and the technology involved in making them run, will supplement Stellantis’ EV roster in Europe. The partnership could dramatically lower the upfront costs of EVs in the region, potentially to the point of cost parity with other mass-scale Chinese-built EVs for end-users. Stellantis, meanwhile, with its established foothold in the European markets and strong brand line-up, has the armament to make sure the cars sell.  

‘The creation of Leapmotor International is a great step forward in helping address the urgent global warming issue with state-of-the-art BEV models that will compete with existing Chinese brands in key markets around the world,’ Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said.

Leapmotor C10 (2024) front static

‘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.’

And new models?

Yes. Leapmotor International has already announced two models set to go on sale in UK in 2025 – the T03 and the C10. The exact prices haven’t been revealed yet, but Stellantis has said that they should be among the most affordable EVs on sale.

The T03 is an electric city car for the A-segment market, with a quoted WLTP range of 165 miles. The C10, Leapmotor’s first global product, is an electric SUV with a quoted range of 261 miles, developed on the manufacturer’s own LEAP 3.0 EV architecture.

But this is just the start. Leapmotor International has declared its intention to launch at least one new car per year for the next three years, so watch this space for more news from CAR.

By Seth Walton

Staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers, specialising in ownership and car advice