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Rumors from China: Stellantis will produce electric cars in Italy? Leapmotor has not responded yet

Recently, it was reported that Stellantis Group is considering producing Leapmo brand electric vehicles at its Mirafiori plant in Italy, with a planned output of 150,000 vehicles. This project will be officially put into production as early as 2026 or 2027. The production of Leapmotor products in this factory is part of the agreement reached between Stellantis Group and Leapmotor. It is worth noting that the Mirafiori plant is currently the production base for Fiat 500e and Maserati. In early January, Stellantis Group announced that it would lay off about 2,250 workers at the plant in response to weak demand.

As of press time, Leapmotor has not responded to the above information.

In October 2023, Leapmotor and Stellanis Group announced a strategic cooperation. Stellanis Group invested approximately 1.5 billion euros to acquire approximately 20% of the equity of Leapmotor, becoming the latter's strategic shareholder and obtaining 2 seats on the board of directors of Leapmotor. At the same time, Stellantis and Leapmotor established a joint venture company called "Leapmotor International" with a share ratio of 51:49. Except for Greater China, the joint venture has the exclusive right to export and sell to all other markets around the world, as well as to locally manufacture Leap Auto products.

Wu Qiang, co-president of Leapmotor, said in an exclusive interview with China Business News that if sales in some overseas regional markets reach a certain level, Leapmotor can rely on Stellantis' global manufacturing plants to produce products.

It is reported that Leapmotor will rely on the Stellantis Group's business layout in other global markets to increase the sales of the Leapmotor brand in the local market. It is expected that the "Leapao International" joint venture will start export business in the second half of 2024, and Europe will It is the first overseas market where the "Leapout International" joint venture company has landed.

Going overseas has become one of the main ways for many Chinese car companies to ease the "involution" of the domestic market. In 2023, domestic automobile exports will reach 4.91 million units, making it the world's largest automobile exporter for the first time. Beginning in 2024, new energy vehicle companies including Xpeng, Jikrypton, and Nezha have announced that they will further expand their presence in overseas markets.

However, in the process of Chinese car companies going overseas, there are few cases of Leapmotor, which relies on the existing marketing service system of large overseas car companies and the production capacity of overseas factories to export products and technologies.

"Mobile phones or televisions can be completely exported. But automobiles are different from other industries. Almost every country regards automobiles as a pillar industry. Only a complete cooperation model can help China's automobiles globalize." Leapmotor Chairman Zhu Jiangming told reporters that if Chinese car companies want to globalize, they need a model of in-depth cooperation that is different from the past.

Stellantis Group Global CEO Tang Weishi believes that Leapmotor may encounter some problems when it comes to customs, localized production and other issues, which will make it difficult to penetrate overseas markets; Stellantis Group can serve as a platform to speed up Leapmotor's overseas expansion. Sales speed; the cooperation between the two companies can achieve better scale advantages and transform the economies of scale into better competitiveness.

In addition, Stellantis Group currently does not show strong competitiveness in the face of the electrification offensive of brands such as Renault, Volkswagen and Tesla. Wu Qiang believes that the electrification layout of various brands under the Stellantis Group needs to be improved; Leapmo's electrified products can well fill Stellantis' product gaps in terms of cost, functionality, and product strength. Natalie Knight, chief financial officer of Stellantis, also said that after Stellantis Group acquired a 20% stake in Leapmotor, the group was equivalent to owning a new brand.

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