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World’s 3rd-largest car company wants to launch a new budget electric brand in South Africa

Stellantis, the world’s third-largest car company, is busy evaluating whether or not to introduce a new budget brand in South Africa focused on electric vehicles (EVs).

Leapmotor International – a joint venture between Stellantis and China’s Leapmotor – will launch in the European Union later this year with two vehicles, after which it will expand its footprint to regions such as Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and South America.

TopAuto got in touch with the automaker to find out whether the domestic market is on Leapmotor International’s radar.

In response, a Stellantis spokesperson said: “We can confirm that [Leapmotor International] is currently under evaluation for local introduction, and the timing for non-EU regions is still to be defined, but not before 2025.”

A local launch for the affordability-focused EV brand wouldn’t be entirely out of the question.

Several Asian brands recently confirmed their intention to bring competitively priced EVs to South African roads, not least of which are BYD, GAC Motor, and the Chery Group’s Omoda, three of Leapmotor’s biggest rivals, as well as Dayun.

On top of this, Stellantis is on a drive to substantially increase its market share across the Middle East and Africa region, with South Africa being a main focal point as it is home to one of the company’s newest car factories.

Should it want to get in on the EV scene before it really takes off, Leapmotor International is in a perfect position to seize the opportunity.

What to expect

Leapmotor confirmed that its first EVs for international markets outside of China are the C10 and T03, after which it will launch at least one new EV per year until 2027.

The C10 is a family-focused SUV that can go 420km on a single charge and features a 170kW e-motor across the range.

It offers a “best-in-segment” ride and handling experience, according to its manufacturer, in addition to an “intelligent cockpit” that incorporates a minimalist design aesthetic with a floating central touchscreen and digital driver’s display.

It also brings Lidar-based advanced driver assistance features as opposed to the camera and radar-based systems that are most frequently applied in the industry.

Coming in at a tad over 4.7m long, the C10 rivals vehicles like the BMW X3 in terms of dimensions.

Leapmotor C10

At the other end of the spectrum, the T03 is Leapmotor’s entry-level hatchback that aims to attract a younger audience with its quirky design and friendlier asking price.

The little EV provides a driving range of 265km and turns the front wheels through either a 70kW or 80kW e-motor.

It boasts a range of amenities including an 8-inch driver’s display, a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a panoramic sunroof; in addition to high-tech features rarely found in the segment, such as lane-keep assist, intelligent speed assist, adaptive cruise control, low-speed following, and a driver fatigue monitor.

The T03 measures just 3.6m long, which would make it one of the smallest cars in the country, but Leapmotor stated that its interior space is optimised so as to offer comparable room to much larger hatchbacks.

Leapmotor T03

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