Chinese EV-maker piggy-backs on Stellantis European plant

Leapmotor electric vehicles (EVs) will be built at partner Stellantis's Tychy plant in Poland, making it one of the first Chinese automakers to start production in Europe.

24 Riaan Chinese1

Output of Leapmotor's T03 small EV car could start before the end of June, using the semi-knocked down (SKD) technique involving turning partially assembled kits into finished vehicles, one of the spokespersons said.

Stellantis chose the site for its partner as part of a joint venture they agreed on last year.

Tychy will ensure low costs for a product designed to be affordable for a broad range of customers, the second source said. Both sources declined to be identified because the details had not been made public.

Another Stellantis spokesperson declined to comment. Leapmotor representatives could not reached for immediate comment.

With a range of 280 kilometres (174 miles), the T03 is already being imported into some European markets, including France, with prices starting at around R410 000.

The model offers to help Stellantis boost its low-cost EV offerings and compete with Renault's Dacia Spring and BYD's Seagull.

Leapmotor said that the joint venture's executive team is in place and that sales of another model, the C10 SUV, the first Leapmotor EV designed specifically for overseas markets, will start soon in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

Chinese automakers are bringing a number of lower-cost EV models to Europe, which has spurred a race by legacy European automakers to develop more affordable electric vehicles.

Trade tensions are running high between China and the European Union, which is investigating whether Chinese EV makers benefit from unfair government subsidies.

Chinese manufacturers are also looking to build assembly plants in Europe. BYD has announced it will build a plant in Hungary, while rival Chery Auto is assessing options for a similar investment, including possibly in Italy and Spain.

Stellantis said last year it was buying a 21% stake in Leapmotor in a R30.3 billion deal that would give it a fresh shot at China, the world's biggest car market by sales.

As part of the deal, the two carmakers also announced a joint venture, giving Stellantis exclusive rights to build, export and sell Leapmotor products outside China, a first for a legacy Western automaker.

A Chinese regulator this month approved the joint venture, in which Stellantis has a 51% stake.

Media reports said earlier this year that Stellantis was considering its Mirafiori complex in Turin, Italy, as a base for Leapmotor's European production, with a targeted annual output of 150,000 cars.

Located in the south of Poland, Tychy is a historic Fiat facility. The plant makes several Stellantis vehicles, including petrol and hybrid versions of the Fiat 500, the Fiat 600, the Jeep Avenger and the new Alfa Romeo Milano, scheduled to be unveiled next month.

More New Energy Vehicles stories

Looking at energy during the month of May

Looking at energy during the month of May

The pollution and energy challenges across the world inspired the South African government to dedicate a month to energy education. This year, Energy Month is May.

  • 16 May 2024
Enviro Automotive extends DFSK EV product range

Enviro Automotive extends DFSK EV product range

Enviro Automotive, an importer and local distributor of DFSK's electric vehicles (EV), announced new additions to its C-Series panel van and bakkie line-up to enhance its current offerings. In July 2022, Enviro Automotive introduced the DFSK brand in South Africa with the launch of the EC35 panel van and EC31 one-tonne bakkie.

  • 15 May 2024