Stellantis NV may end car production in China as geopolitical tensions deepen and Western manufacturers cede market share to domestic players.
The maker of Peugeot and Citron cars may pursue an “asset-light” strategy for those brands in the world’s biggest car market, Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said on Monday. Earlier this year, he used the same phrase when describing Stellantis’ decision to leave the company’s only Jeep plant in the country.
“If we continue with this strategy—which is our current strategy—we will not need factories in China,” Tavares told reporters at the Paris auto show, adding that the company could import European vehicles instead. or to the United States. “I’m not sure they’re necessary.”
Stellantis is considering a possible exit as established foreign car brands have struggled to maintain their position in the Chinese market, raising questions about their long-term future in the country.
As local manufacturers such as BYD Co and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd introduce a range of electric models, businesses for Stellantis, Volkswagen AG, and General Motors Co become more difficult.
Stellantis’ Opel brand announced last month that it was suspending its planned expansion in China. Jeep’s 12-year-old joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group struggled to gain traction before the parent company announced its exit in July. The state-owned GAC Group reversed its partner’s decision to rely solely on imports after the two sides failed to agree to increase Stellantis’ investment in their joint venture.
Manufacturers are taking more and more into account the events of the war in Ukraine and are wondering if the ever-growing list of sanctions against Russia would also apply to China if the country had defended itself in Taiwan.
Other automakers are doubling down on China. Germany’s BMW AG is moving production of electric Mini vans from the UK to the eastern province of Jiangsu and is building a small sports utility vehicle in the country in cooperation with Great Wall Motor Co. Concern about Chinese automakers grows. to take over the already competitive European market. Tavares, who accused Stellantis of political interference in Jeep’s decision, said Monday that European authorities should impose restrictions similar to those imposed on foreign automakers in China.