Leapmotor, a start-up Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, will debut in the UK market in March 2025. The company will initially offer two models: the compact T03, which has the potential to become Britain’s most affordable EV, and the larger C10 SUV.

Leapmotor’s European expansion is part of a joint venture with Vauxhall’s parent company Stellantis, which will commence sales in nine European countries in September. This strategic alliance, known as Leapmotor International, is 51% owned by Stellantis and 49% by Leapmotor. The partnership aims to establish 200 dealerships across Europe by the end of 2024.

Carlos Tavares, Stellantis’ Chief Executive Officer, announced the collaboration at an industry event in Hangzhou. He confirmed that the brand will expand to Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, and Portugal in September, before entering the UK market six months later. Tavares also indicated that Leapmotor plans to penetrate markets in South America, the Middle East, Africa, India, and the Asia Pacific by the end of this year.

Although there has been no official announcement regarding the production locations, it is speculated that the smaller T03 model might be manufactured at Stellantis’ Tychy factory in Poland. This facility currently produces the Fiat 500e and 600e, along with other Stellantis EVs like the Jeep Avenger and the upcoming Alfa Romeo Junior.

Leapmotor joins a growing list of Chinese EV manufacturers seeking to establish a manufacturing presence in Europe. The influx of lower-cost Chinese EVs has raised concerns among European manufacturers, who fear significant market losses. In response, the EU has initiated an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese EV imports.

Several Chinese automakers are planning substantial investments in Europe. Chery Auto has partnered with Spain’s EV Motors to open a manufacturing site in Catalonia, with production set to begin later this year. BYD, the world’s largest EV maker, is building its first European production base in Hungary, expected to start operations in three years. Additionally, state-owned SAIC is scouting for a European site for an EV production plant, while XPeng and Geely are exploring similar ventures to circumvent potential higher tariffs.

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These developments highlight the strategic moves by Chinese EV manufacturers to capture a significant share of the European market, leveraging their cost advantages and advanced technology to compete with established European brands.

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