Leapmotor accelerates its entry into international vehicle markets

Stellantis Group representatives will meet Leapmotor management members at the Beijing auto show on Thursday.

Leapmotor’s booth at the ongoing Beijing Auto Show has attracted the attention of an international delegation, underscoring the global prominence of Chinese automotive products and demonstrating the Chinese new energy vehicle startup’s willingness to venture into overseas markets.

The international delegation includes more than 100 representatives of the Stellantis Group, as well as members of several French automotive organizations and dealers from Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and South America.

In October 2023, Leapmotor secured an investment of about 1.5 billion euros ($1.58 billion) from Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest automotive group, which represented a 20 percent stake in the company. This strategic investment aims to strengthen Leapmotor’s competitive position within the new energy vehicle sector. In addition, both entities will work together to form a joint venture focused on the production and distribution of Leapmotor vehicles in markets outside of China.

Zhu Jiangming, founder and CEO of Leapmotor, said in an interview on Thursday that the advantage for Leapmotor’s future lies in overseas markets and the cooperation with Stellantis is progressing rapidly.

The year 2025 is about to be an important milestone for Leapmotor in the international markets. The company has formed a special overseas team and product certification is expected to be completed in the third quarter. According to Zhu, this will pave the way for the introduction of models in overseas markets in the fourth quarter of this year.

With the support of more than 10,000 Stellantis dealers, Leapmotor will establish its own sales and service network in overseas markets in Europe, South America, the Middle East and Africa, as well as in the Asia-Pacific region, he added.

Leapmotor started pre-sales of the C16 SUV at the Beijing Auto Show, aiming to provide customers with a comfortable experience similar to an MPV in a six-seater SUV.

Cao Li, senior vice president of Leapmotor, said at the event that the C16 is a “cost-effective SUV designed for ordinary families” as the model will cost less than 200,000 yuan ($27,600) and features the latest technologies from Leapmotor.

Both variants with a longer range and purely electric variants will be available. And the pure-electric C16 will feature an 800-volt silicon carbide platform, which offers fast charging, high efficiency and powerful performance, capable of being charged from 30 to 80 percent in 15 minutes.

The model will be equipped with Leapmotor’s centrally integrated electrical/electronic architecture, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip, the next-generation LEAP OS system and a 14.6-inch 2.5K high-definition central control screen. It also features advanced driving solutions powered by lidar and the Nvidia OrinX chip, as well as a large panoramic roof and a power tailgate, Cao said.

Zhu said, “Each model offered by Leapmotor features better configurations at the same price or lower prices than those of the competition. Within the sub-200,000 yuan price range, we meet a variety of user needs.”

Leapmotor’s cost-effectiveness is attributed to the automaker’s proprietary technologies, with its proprietary core components representing a high percentage of the vehicle’s cost, according to Zhu.

Leapmotor is expected to be in the green by 2025 as it started seeing positive gross margin from the third quarter of last year.

The 2023 financial report shows that the Hong Kong-listed automaker delivered 144,155 vehicles this year, an increase of nearly 30 percent year-on-year, and annual sales during the period reached 16.75 billion yuan, an increase of 35.2 percent on an annual basis. For the first time, the company achieved a positive annual gross profit margin of 0.5 percent.

In addition to the C16, Leapmotor will present its first global model C10 at the Beijing Auto Show, as well as the new C11, new C01 and new T03 series.