European car maker Stellantis, which makes Jeep and Citroen brands in India, on Tuesday tied up with Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) manufacturer Leapmotor and said it will bring “affordable” EVs to India by the end of this calendar year under a joint venture (JV).

This will be the third Chinese brand to enter India after SAIC’s MG and BYD in the EV space. Both the companies entered into a JV at global level after receiving all required authorisations, thus completing the formation of Leapmotor International BV – a 51:49 JV led by Stellantis.

The companies also said that the India-bound EVs will be manufactured at one of the Stellantis’ manufacturing facilities -- Tamil Nadu (Thiruvallur) or Maharashtra (Pune), considering the high import tariff on fully built cars in the country, Carlos Tavares, Chief Executive Officer, Stellantis told reporters.

“It is quite clear that each time we are facing severe customs duties or tariffs, it is a good opportunity for us to use the manufacturing footprints of Stellantis ‘inside of the bubble’. So we are very keen on creating that opportunity for Leapmotor International if that makes economic sense,” he said.

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Headquartered in Amsterdam, the JV company is led by CEO, Tianshu Xin, a former Stellantis China executive, who is now laying the groundwork for a successful introduction of the T03 and C10 models, first in the European markets and expanding to India and Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), West Asia and Africa, and South America starting in the fourth quarter 2024, the company said.

In October 2023, the two companies announced a Stellantis investment of €1.5 billion to acquire around 21 per cent equity in Leapmotor (ranked in the top 3 Chinese EV startup brands in 2023) and the deal also outlined the formation of Leapmotor International, which would have exclusive rights for the export and sale, as well as manufacturing, of Leapmotor products outside Greater China.

“So there is no limitation, of course, for Leapmotor International to use our (Stellantis) manufacturing footprint inside of India if that was to be the best case.” Stellantis manufacturers Citroen brand of vehicles in Chennai and the Jeep brand in Pune.

India imposes customs duty ranging between 70 per cent and 100 per cent, depending on the engine size and cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value on cars imported as completely built units.