This affordable Chinese car could regain the ecological bonus faster than expected

Stellantis could start assembling Leapmotor's small city car as early as next quarter at its Polish factory in Tychy.

Stellantis could honor its partnership with the Chinese manufacturer Leapmotor from next quarter. According to information obtained by Reuters on March 22, Leapmotor's small T03 city car could find a place in the Tychy factory in Poland in the coming weeks.

To everyone's surprise, the Stellantis group signed a partnership with Leapmotor last October. This agreement involves the Franco-Italian-American group helping Leapmotor in its international development, by assembling and marketing the models of the young Chinese brand on foreign markets (excluding China which remains under the responsibility of the Chinese manufacturer). However, it is difficult to imagine that a little more than 6 months later, the first Leapmotors assembled by Stellantis could already see the light of day in Europe.

Kit cars pre-assembled in China

Installing a new production line in a factory is not usually done in a few weeks or months. This is generally a longer-term job. Rumors of Leapmotor cars being assembled next quarter in a Stellantis factory are surprising.

Leapmotor T03 // Source: Leapmotor
Leapmotor T03 // Source: Leapmotor

To go so quickly, production is made a little easier. Stellantis will receive “kit” cars in its Polish factory to popularize the point. For those who are a little more familiar with the automotive world, Stellantis will receive “semi-knocked down” (SKD). Stellantis' role will consist of transforming sets of parts, which will have been pre-assembled in China, to convert them into finished vehicles in Europe.

The main assembly stages of these future Leapmotor T03s will therefore have been carried out in China. This limits a large part of the complexity of launching a new production line in a factory and would allow it to be done in such a short time frame. This would in some way take over from the old thermal Fiat 500.

Access to the bonus to be confirmed later

The new bonus is mainly reserved for models produced in Europe. At least this is how we can simply explain the gas plant set up by the French government to no longer grant government aid for Chinese vehicles (and other distant production).

Leapmotor T03 // Source: Raphaelle BautLeapmotor T03 // Source: Raphaelle Baut
Leapmotor T03 at the Paris Motor Show by its French importer // Source: Raphaelle Baut

In detail, the pre-assembly of the Leapmotor T03 will still be at least partially counted as Chinese production. Its eco-score will not be that of a real car built in Europe. On the other hand, the electric city car will a priori be able to remove a large part of the transport, which is very penalizing in the calculation. This could be enough to make it eligible for the bonus given the car's small size.

All this will merit looking into the case of this T03 in a little more detail. For the moment, it's a bit like putting the cart before the horse to talk about bonuses. These are just rumors not confirmed by Stellantis (or Leapmotor) at the time of writing this article.

A model to conquer Europe

In fact, it is not so much the French market and its bonus that interests Leapmotor with this assembly in the Polish Stellantis factory in Tychy. This model is already sold for around €25,000 by a French importer, it could have continued like this for longer (but without bonus).

The objective for Leapmotor will be to conquer the whole of Europe with this small city car, normally quite affordable. This is a point that will also need to be clarified regarding the logistics associated with this marketing throughout Europe. Who will sell these models? When ? Or ? And above all, at what price? This is something to keep an eye on.

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