Vauxhall owner Stellantis is “evaluating” sales of Chinese firm Leapmotor's electric cars in the UK, following its recently announced £1.3 billion deal to purchase a 20% stake in the company.
Under the deal, Stellantis has exclusive rights to export Leapmotor models outside of China and said it plans to start sales of the cars in Europe via the new joint-venture company from as early as 2024.
Leapmotor has already begun marketing the T03 city car in France from as little as €99 (£86) a month with no deposit, which includes generous local subsidies.
The T03 sells for the equivalent of £7437 in China but prices generally double in Europe with shipping costs, import duties and safety modifications added on top. In China, Leapmotor also sells the C11 SUV starting at the equivalent £19,437 and the C01 saloon starting at £22,167.
Introducing cut-price Leapmotor EVs to the UK would help Stellantis reach the ZEV mandate targets starting next year, which forces car makers to sell a minimum of 22% zero-emission models in their overall sales mix, with tougher targets for subsequent years.
Stellantis is currently lagging behind rivals on EV penetration in the UK, with Vauxhall and Peugeot its highest-placed brands in terms of EV share, at 15% apiece in the 12 months between October last year and September this year, according to figures from market researchers Dataforce. Stellantis's other brands include Alfa Romeo, Citroën, DS, Fiat and Jeep.
The T03 would be likely to undercut the newly revealed Citroen ë-C3, which arrives in late 2024 with a £22,000 start price, 44kWh LFP battery and a 199-mile range.
The Leapmotor T03 would also be likely to undercut with the £25,490 BYD Dolphin, which is the cheapest EV currently available in the market.
Stellantis is also evaluating Leapmotor sales in other global markets, including the Middle East, Africa and South America. Stellantis said it plans to export half a million Leapmotor cars annually by 2030.