Leapmotor T03 threatens to steal Dacia Spring’s crown as UK’s cheapest EV

Mike Askew

25 Jun 2024

Stellantis, the automotive group that owns Citroen, Vauxhall and Peugeot, is set to introduce a budget electric city car that could even undercut the Dacia Spring’s low £15,000 price tag.

Late last year, Stellantis struck a deal with Chinese manufacturer Leapmotor which saw the group take a 20% stake in return for an export deal that will allow it to sell its products under the Stellantis brand. The two companies set up a new joint venture, called Leapmotor International (51% owned by Stellantis), in an effort to satisfy demand for cheaper, more affordable electric cars. 

Unlike other Chinese brands, which are at the mercy of looming tariff hikes for models built in China, Leapmotor will build cars in Europe at Stellantis’s Tychy factory in Poland. The plant, which is widely regarded to be the most cost-effective factory in Europe thanks to low labour costs, has already been fitted out with Leapmotor’s T03 production line ahead of volume production starting in September. By constructing cars within the EU, Leapmotor and Stellantis will be able to dodge any potential tariff increases that will affect rivals, including the Dacia Spring, which is currently built in Hubei, China. 

Leapmotor T03 - could it undercut the Dacia Spring?

Unveiled last year, the Leapmotor T03 is a stripped-back, compact five-door hatchback aimed squarely at rivals such as the Dacia Spring, BYD Seagull and Citroen eC3. It measures just 3.6 metres long and comes with a 41kWh battery and a WLTP range of 174 miles on a full charge. It’s built on a bespoke electric platform and is powered by a 94bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels. According to Leapmotor’s English language website, the T03 will be offered in four guises; 200 Light, 310 Light, 403 Light and 403 Smart, but gives little indication as to what the key differences are between the models. 

The final price of the T03 will be key to its chances of success in the UK. Stellantis has already put the model on sale in France with a price of around £18,000 at today’s current exchange rates. However, as France (along with many other EU countries) still offers Government grants for electric cars, the price isn’t necessarily what UK buyers will pay when it arrives at the start of 2025. 

Sold through existing dealerships

Another advantage of the Stellantis deal with Leapmotor is that it will be sold from the start through a vast dealership network. To date, new Chinese brands such as BYD have struggled to make a impact in the UK due to the lack of a native dealer network. While BYD uses a small network of established dealer groups, having the full portfolio of Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot retailers in which to promote and service the T03 and subsequent models will be a huge benefit. 

More Leapmotor models to follow

The T03 is expected to be followed by a larger C10 and C11 which are aimed at the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y respectively. However, given that both models will compete directly with a number of Stellantis’s existing models, it remains to be seen how they will fit into the overall plan. Both are currently on sale in China with a choice of fully electric and plug-in hybrid options. 

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