Leapmotor, Stellantis plot accelerated EV route to UK market

Leapmotor International, the joint venture business formed by Stellantis and Leapmotor, is to launch its first cars in the UK next March, writes Stephen Briers.

Two full electric models will be available in the first phase, the C10 D-segment car, offering 261 miles of range (WLTP), and the T03 A-sector city car (165 miles WLTP range), with a further four models to follow over the following two-to-three years.

They could include the C11 SUV and the C01 D-sector saloon, which are both available as full electric and plug-in hybrid options, and the C16 large SUV which was unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show, although Leapmotor is also launching new models in the coming years. All will be sold as Leapmotor-badged cars.

Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, which owns 51% of the JV, said Leapmotor International would enable it to accelerate its full electric model roll out, take advantage of best-in-class technology developed by its Chinese partner and help Stellantis to achieve its 2030 carbon reduction plan (50% cut in emissions versus 2021).

The first expansion market is nine countries in mainland Europe from September this year, with sales supported by 200 dealerships of which around one third will be the wholly-owned Stellantis & You.

The UK sales structure will be the same with cars sold via traditional agreements, although agency has not been ruled out in the future. Existing Stellantis retailers will be offered the opportunity to become a Leapmotor dealer.

While pricing is yet to be confirmed, the five-star Euro NCAP C10 is priced from £15,000 in China, while the T03 retails for just £5,500.

“We have benchmarked the C10 against the Model 3 and Model Y and the ID4,” said Leapmotor founder and CEO Zhu Jiangming. “The T03 is benchmarked against the Fiat 500.”

He added: “We will continue to innovate, to reduce cost and improve performance. In the next two years we will launch three-to-four cars to cover the entire price range. We have three pricing segments – 100,000RMB (£11,000), 200,000RMB (£22,000) and 300,000RMB (£33,000) and three product types – sedan, SUV and MPV.”

Pricing in the UK will be comparable to the likes of BYD, GWM Ora and Omoda. The C10, therefore, is likely to be pitched from around £35,000.

The cars use cell-to-chassis technology and are based on the Leap 3.0 central integrated vehicle architecture platform which majors on autonomous capability, comfort and safety.

Jiangming said: “We hope we can sell our core electronics to other manufacturers including Stellantis. This will be a branch business offer for Leapmotor, an important source of income.”

Tavares said Leapmotor International would create “bubbles” in each market to help sidestep possible tariffs.

He explained: “Our strategy is to have plants inside of the bubbles so we will either export directly for more affordability but if we can’t, then we will use our manufacturing capacity to make cars inside the bubble and bring zero emission motoring to as many people as possible.”

Tavares added: “We don’t want to slowdown Leapmotor; we want to be fast, we want a start-up mentality. Decision-making is delegated to China, decided by Mr Zhu and our executives here.”

Read More: More Chinese car brands are due to vie for UK consumers’ spend

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