A proposed joint venture which would allow Stellantis to build and sell Leapmotor electric vehicles outside China has received approval from a Chinese regulator, according to Reuters sources.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved the joint venture but the deal was still waiting on regulatory approval in other markets, according to a news agency source.

Stellantis had said last October it was buying a 21% stake in Leapmotor in a US$1.6bn deal and announced the joint venture.

Under that deal, Stellantis would have exclusive rights to build, export and sell Leapmotor products outside China, a first for a legacy western automaker, Reuters said.

Stellantis would own 51% of the joint venture.

Leapmotor said in a statement sent to Reuters the executive team of the joint venture was in place as the C10, the first Leapmotor EV model planned for overseas markets, would soon start sales in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

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Earlier, Leapmotor had told Reuters first shipments to Europe would arrive in the second half of 2024.