The group to which Fiat belongs was seen as one of the main promoters of a possible crackdown by Brussels on Chinese car imports into Europe. Deal with Leapmotor changes cards on the table
Stellantis, a group that also includes Fiat, is focusing on China to develop electric vehicles. announced An investment of 1.5 billion euros to acquire 20% of Leapmotor, one of China’s battery-powered vehicle manufacturers. The move effectively positions Stellantis among major European companies that see China as an opportunity for development, rather than as their archrival in the race for a share of the emerging power market. Stellantis President Carlos Tavares comments on the investment as he launches an investigation into the Chinese government’s massive state subsidies for the auto sector, which could lead to tariffs on a growing number of EU imports today. It is no coincidence that he publicly criticized the European Commission’s decision to do so. A low-cost electric car made in China.
“Faced with global problems, we must adopt a global mindset. We do not support a divided world. We prefer competition. Start investigating That’s not the best way to deal with issues like this,” Tavares said, adding that Stellantis is not participating. European car companies have asked the European Commission to open an investigation into China. The revelation refutes rumors that Stellantis and another mountain giant, Renault, pressured Brussels, through President Emmanuel Macron, to begin the process of imposing tariffs on Beijing.
Despite the rumors, it is the current structure of European companies’ production chains that has cast suspicion on Paris. Even as Germany, especially Volkswagen, strengthens its mutually beneficial relationship with China, the same has not happened so far with Renault and Stellantis. It is no coincidence that Berlin received the EU investigation in a cold light, warning of the risk of negative impact on Europe’s auto sector. French Minister Laurence Boone welcomed Brussels’ efforts, saying: “We cannot allow the market to be flooded with over-subsidized electric cars that threaten businesses, as happened with solar panels.”
Mr. Boone’s words somehow echoed the alarm that Mr. Tavares himself sounded at the Paris Motor Show exactly a year ago. There is “no reason” to make it easier for China to access European markets without changing the reverse, Boone said last October. Just a month ago, Stellantis pulled out of an electric jeep development partnership with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group. “We want the same conditions,” the head of the Franco-Italian group reiterated, adding that Chinese manufacturers “will only be welcome in Europe” if European manufacturers have access to the same conditions in China.
Clearly, Tavares now sees Leapmotor as a way to achieve this level playing field. Stellantis hopes to increase Leap Motor’s sales in China and other parts of the world, including Europe, while also “leveraging Leap Motor’s EV ecosystem in China to expand the Franco-Italian group’s fleet of vehicles. We hope to contribute to achieving the major electrification goals of the world. Tavares asserts that Europe’s first Leap Motor model, resulting from a joint venture with Stellantis, “will be available within two years at the latest.”
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