Stellantis has formed a joint venture with Chinese electric vehicle (EV) start-up Leapmotor that will bring EV models to European markets in the fourth quarter 2024, beginning with Leapmotor’s T03 and C10 models.

The T03 will be produced in Europe, at a location to be disclosed at a later stage, while the C10 will be imported from China at first. Reuters reported in March that Europe production would be at the Fiat plant in Tychy, Poland but this has not been confirmed by Stellantis.


Leapmotor International will import the C10 to Europe from China in the initial stages

“We decided to localise the production of T03 in Europe to better serve our European customers and reduce the transportation costs and environmental impact,” a spokesperson for Stellantis told Automotive Logistics. “On the other hand, we decided to keep the production of C10 in China, where we have a well-established supply chain and manufacturing facilities.” 

In Europe, Leapmotor International will use Stellantis distribution channels and begin with sales in nine countries in Europe – Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Romania. Stellantis the distribution will be supported by dedicated country managers and 200 points of sales by the end of the year, including Stellantis &You locations, and that would increase to 500 by 2026.

“Leapmotor customers in Europe will enjoy the benefits of Stellantis’ extensive network and expertise,” said Stellantis’ spokesperson. “This translates to well-established sales and after-sales processes, ensuring efficient vehicle distribution, delivery and high-quality servicing throughout the vehicle’s lifespan.”

Leapmotor International is headquartered in Amsterdam and its management team is led by CEO Tianshu Xin, a former executive at Stellantis China.

After Europe, the joint venture plans to expand operations to India and Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), Middle East and Africa, and South America. 

China exports to Europe 
China is exporting a significant amount of passenger vehicles to overseas markets and, as revealed by the latest report from the Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG), exports from China hit 502,000 units in March, bringing year-to-date vehicle exports in Q1 to 1.3m.

According to Citi Research, by destination the EU holds the majority share of China EV exports, accounting for 47% in value last year. China’s carmakers pay 10% import duty on cars sent to the EU, compared to the US for instance, which had imposed a 27.5% import duty but has now increased it to 100% as a means to “safeguard American jobs”.

However, sales of battery EVs (BEVs) in Europe are softening. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (Acea), BEV sales decreased by 11.3% in March to 134,397 units, reflecting a broader market downturn. The BEV share of new vehicle registrations in the EU in the first quarter of 2024 stood at 12%. However, among the three largest BEV markets, Belgium (+23.8%) and France (+10.9%) enjoyed double-digit increases, while Germany faced a significant decrease of 28.9%.

Stellantis said that Leapmotor would have a strong appeal to those who appreciate an affordable BEV-only brand with a focus on technology-driven features and capabilities.

”We expect it to principally compete against other Chinese brands imported in Europe, and we note that many distributors of our brands are positioning themselves as distributors of Chinese brands to complement their traditional business offering,” said the spokesperson.  

Global commercial presence 
Stellantis invested around €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) to acquire approximately 21% equity in Leapmotor in October last year. The deal included the formation of Leapmotor International and its exclusive rights for the export and sale, as well as manufacturing, of Leapmotor products outside Greater China. That now includes Europe. Stellantis said the partnership aims to further boost Leapmotor’s sales in China while benefitting from Stellantis’ established global commercial presence to accelerate Leapmotor brand sales in other regions.

“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,” said Stellantis’ CEO Carlos Tavares. “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.