[Insights] Stellantis Invests EUR 1.5 Billion in Leapmotor, Enabling EV Technology Advancements

2023-11-28 Emerging Technologies editor

On October 26, 2023, Stellantis announced a EUR 1.5 billion investment to acquire approximately 20% of Leapmotor, securing two seats on its board. Additionally, Stellantis and Leapmotor will establish a joint venture named “Leapmotor International” with ownership stakes of 51% and 49%, respectively. The CEO of the joint venture will be appointed by the Stellantis group.

TrendForce’s Insights:

  1. Leapmotor’s High Self-Reliance in EV Technology (Electric Motor, Battery, Electronic Control) with Completed Four-Domain Integration in EEA Architecture

Before Stellantis took over Leapmotor, European automakers like Volkswagen and Audi had previously collaborated with Chinese counterparts such as XPENG and SAIC in the electric vehicle sector and technological development. The primary aim was to exchange different resources, including funding or access to the European market, for China’s EV technology.

Leapmotor, in addition to independently developing battery packs and an 800V silicon carbide electric drive system, has based its control system on the self-developed “Four-Leaf Clover” Electronical/Electric Architecture (EEA).

This architecture achieves cross-domain integration across four domains—power, body, ADAS, and cabin—utilizing a central computing platform to significantly reduce the use of Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and related wiring. This integration enhances the overall intelligence and range of the vehicle.

Stellantis had previously expressed a “light asset” strategy for the Chinese market, aiming to reduce fixed costs. Collaborating with Leapmotor enables cost savings in independent research and development.

On a global strategic level, Stellantis has its own electric platform, “STLA.” Therefore, cooperation with Leapmotor provides immediate support for Stellantis in the platform of EV technology and market development, both in China and globally.

  1. Leapmotor Need to Seize the Opportunity to Accelerate Overseas Expansion

While Stellantis’ current focus is not on the Chinese market, its integration of resources from the merger of FCA (Fiat Chrysler) and PSA (Peugeot Citroën) provides a significant market foundation in Europe and the Americas. According to Stellantis’ disclosed data for the first half of 2023, it achieved a net revenue of EUR 98.4 billion, a 12% growth, and a net profit of EUR 10.9 billion, a 37% growth.

The sales volume of new energy vehicles also grew by 24% during the same period. The “Leapmotor International” joint venture between Stellantis and Leapmotor is not only responsible for the Greater China region but plays a crucial role in global sales and holds exclusive manufacturing rights for Leapmotor’s vehicle models.

Although Leapmotor holds a technological edge in three key components over European and American automakers, it faces fierce competition in the Chinese market from startups like NIO, XPeng, Li Auto, and traditional manufacturers like SAIC and Great Wall Motor. In the third-quarter financial report of 2023, Leapmotor achieved a gross profit margin of 1.2%, marking its first positive gross profit.

However, the net profit continues to incur losses. Stellantis’ financial injection serves to alleviate Leapmotor’s financial pressures, allowing it to capitalize on opportunities for global expansion.

In addition, amidst the escalating competition among Chinese automakers to enhance their export capabilities, Leapmotor can leverage Stellantis’ mature sales channels and resources to gain a strategic advantage in the international arena. The operational control of Leapmotor International remains in the hands of Stellantis, not only acquiring Leapmotor’s technology but also eliminating a potential competitor.

This transaction is built on the mutual benefits each party seeks, potentially establishing a collaborative model for future technology and market-sharing partnerships between Chinese and European automotive manufacturers.

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