Jeep and Ram owner Stellantis is considering partnering with a Chinese EV maker, following in Volkswagen’s footsteps. Stellantis EVs may ride on an EV platform from China to strengthen its brand in the region.
Stellantis follows VW with Chinese EV partnership talks
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Stellantis is exploring alliances in China to expand its brand in the world’s largest EV market.
The sources said one potential partner could be Zhejiang Leapmotor Technologies (Leapmotor). The news comes three weeks after a report claimed that Volkswagen was negotiating with Leapmotor to buy out a certain generation of its EV platform for its Jetta brand.
The local report claimed the Volkswagen EV partnership would be more similar to the Audi-SAIC tie-up rather than the XPeng deal.
In late July, Volkswagen invested $700 million for a 4.99% stake in XPeng. The German automaker will use XPeng’s Edward platform, used in the G9 and P7 models, to launch two new electric models.
Audi, on the other hand, confirmed a partnership with Chinese state-owned SAIC a week or so before to accelerate EV development in the region with tailored products.
According to Bloomberg‘s sources, Stellantis is considering its options, including investing in a Chinese EV maker or a business partnership to expand the brand in the region.
Spokespeople from Stellantis and Volkswagen declined to comment, while Leapmotor didn’t respond immediately.
After closing its only Jeep factory in China last year, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares promoted an “asset-light” strategy as rivals like Volkswagen and GM lost market share to domestic EV markers.
Stellantis, the parent company behind Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and several others, does have a joint venture in China with Dongfeng Motor Group. The JV sells Peugeot and Citroen cars in China, but Stellantis may be looking to expand its presence with a new partnership.
China is the largest EV market globally, with over 535,000 battery electric vehicles sold in June alone, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
Over 2.55 million EVs were sold in the region between January and June. Many leading global automakers, including Volkswagen, have relied on China for a significant portion of their revenue.
Automakers such as VW, Toyota, GM, and now Stellantis are beginning to recognize the urgency as EV makers like BYD and Tesla take market share. If they fail to keep up with domestic EV makers, they could continue getting squeezed out of the market.
Partnering with local automakers and suppliers can help speed up EV development in the region while satisfying the unique needs of the Chinese market.