China's Leapmotor set to enter India with EVs

New Delhi: After MG and BYD, Chinese EV maker Leapmotor is all set to enter India. The company, which was previously been in discussions with Sajjan Jindal's JSW, will announce investments and India entry plans in partnership with Stellantis Group, which recently bought a stake in its global operations.

"Leapmotor and Stellantis are likely to make an announcement on India plans and this may happen in the next few weeks," a source told. "If approved by govt, this will see the launch of budget electric cars developed by Leapmotor into India, intensifying competition in the green cars space," the source added.

One of the world's largest automobile manufacturers, Stellantis currently operates a slew of brands across continents, including Citroen, Jeep, Chrysler, Peugeot, Fiat and Maserati. Stellantis is present in India through Jeep and Citroen, and now plans to move forward in terms of expanding operations, introducing brands, expanding retail or making new investments.

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The global partnership between Stellantis and Leapmotor is also recent one, and this deal that perhaps gives confidence to the Chinese company to make a bid for the Indian market, despite strict checks on investments from companies that emanate from countries, which share land border with India.

These checks have seen BYD struggle to expand in India after failing to get approvals from govt on its investment plans, despite bidding with a local partner. On the other hand, MG Motor, owned by Chinese group SAIC, was forced to give up space to an Indian partner as Sajjan Jindal's JSW bought a significant stake in the company with agreements to increase it to 51% in the coming years.

Stellantis had announced plans to invest USD 1.6 billion in Leapmotor to acquire a nearly 20% stake in October last year, emerging as a significant shareholder in the Chinese low-cost electric vehicle company. The agreement between the two companies also established the formation of a new entity called Leapmotor International, a joint venture led 51:49 by Stellantis that holds exclusive rights to export, sell and manufacture Leapmotor products outside Greater China. The India entry plans are expected to be led by the new export-oriented entity. When contacted, Thierry Koskas, CEO of the Citroen brand and head of sales and marketing at Stellantis, declined to comment on Leapmotor's possible entry in India.

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