Stellantis-Backed Chinese EV Maker Leapmotor To Foray Into Indian Market

Swarajya Staff

May 06, 2024, 04:42 PM | Updated 05:10 PM IST

Leapmotor to enter Indian market.
Leapmotor to enter Indian market.

Following in the footsteps of its Chinese peers MG and BYD, Leapmotor, a Chinese electric vehicle maker is preparing to enter the Indian market.

According to a report from ToI on 6 May, Leapmotor is set to enter the Indian market in collaboration with the Stellantis group, which recently acquired a stake in its global operations. The report mentioned that the company will soon unveil its investment and entry plans.

The report, citing unnamed sources, mentioned that the announcement could come within the next few weeks.

While Stellantis has not commented on Leapmotor’s potential entry into India, the report said the move could see the launch of budget-friendly electric cars, intensifying competition in the green car segment.

Stellantis, formed from the merger of Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and French PSA Group in 2021, boasts 14 iconic automotive brands, including Chrysler, Citroen, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, Opel and Peugeot.

In India, Stellantis is represented by Jeep and Citroen, with plans for significant expansion through the introduction of new brands, expansion of retail networks, and substantial investments.

Last October, Stellantis announced it was buying a 20 per cent stake in Leapmotor in a 1.5 billion euros deal that would give it a fresh shot at China, the world's biggest car market by sales.

As part of the deal, the two carmakers also announced the formation of Leapmotor International, a joint venture with exclusive rights for export, sale, and manufacturing of Leapmotor products outside greater China.

This groundbreaking collaboration between a leading automaker and a Chinese pure-play NEV OEM is an industry first. In March of this year, Chinese regulators approved the joint venture, with Stellantis holding a 51 per cent stake.

The global partnership between the two companies has emboldened Leapmotor to pursue opportunities in India, despite stringent regulations on investments from countries sharing a land border with India.

The Centre had tightened FDI regulations to remove companies from countries, which share a land border with India, coming through the automatic route. As a result, companies from China now have to be screened by an inter-ministerial panel.

As such, Chinese automakers have had trouble finding long-term success in the world’s most populous nation. 

China’s top-selling electric-car maker BYD's expansion plans in India hit a roadblock last July when the Centre reportedly rejected its proposal to build a $1 billion EV plant in partnership with Hyderabad-based Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd.

The rejection was likely on “national security” grounds, although an official confirmation was not available, and the companies did not comment.

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