Leapmotor likely to introduce Tiago EV rival and SUV in India

The company conducted a feasibility study this year and the decision has been made; the announcement could happen very shortly and the India entry is likely by year-end.

By Ketan Thakkar calendar 13 May 2024 Views icon4391 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Leapmotor likely to introduce Tiago EV rival and SUV in India

Chinese EV brand Leapmotor, which has a joint venture (JV) with the Amsterdam-based Stellantis, may announce its India entry plan soon. Autocar India, on February 29, was the first to report on the possibility of Leapmotor making an India foray.

Now, sources have told us that Leapmotor will commence its India innings with the T03 hatchback, which will be aimed at Tata’s Tiago EV. The brand would also introduce its five-seater SUV, the C10, to take on BYD’s Atto3, MG Motor’s ZS EV, the upcoming Creta EV and Maruti eVX, among other electric SUVs in that segment.

The company conducted a feasibility study this year and the decision has been made; the announcement could happen very shortly and the India entry is likely by year-end, sources added. The Indian versions of C10 and T03 will be based on those developed for the European market. The company is likely to introduce models from the A to C segments, and add more MPVs, SUVs and hatchbacks in future.

Leapmotor, which sold a 20% stake for €1.5 billion to Stellantis in September 2023 to create a 51:49 JV with the latter for its international expansion, sees India as one of the key markets. Leapmotor vehicles are likely to be sold via Stellantis India’s existing dealers, which have seen suboptimal volumes so far. Adding a third brand would draw more buyers to these showrooms that currently retail Jeep and Citroen models.

“The long-term product strategy in India is still under discussion with the Stellantis’ product-planning teams in Germany and China,” said one of the sources who did not wish to be named. The short-term plan is to export completely built imports before the assembly and manufacturing can start here.

“The whole global market expansion is based on the strategic cooperation with Stellantis. Leapmotor will leverage its resources locally in many markets it enters, including the manufacturing facility and dealer network,” the source added.

Leapmotor plans to double its China volumes to 3 lakh units this year and expects sales in international markets to reach almost 1 lakh units by 2025 from 10,000 in 2023. While the number of electric vehicles available in India is still very low, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors together have lined up close to a dozen new models for launch.

The new entrants, mainly from East and South East Asia—such as MG Motor (along with JSW Group), BYD, Leapmotor, and VinFast—will likely introduce many global models, widening the choice for prospective buyers.

The lower goods and services tax rate of 5% and the recently announced new electric vehicle policy have offered enough incentives for global players to come and invest in India. Still, it will be interesting to see how the government would treat the investments from Chinese carmakers and whether they would be allowed to participate in the new EV policy to import vehicles at a lower duty. There have been speculative reports of how VinFast and BYD may not be eligible for benefits. 

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