Dongfeng blindsided as Stellantis mulls possible exit from China joint venture

Stellantis NV’s Chinese partner says it was blindsided by the European automaker’s suggestion that it may end manufacturing in the world’s biggest light-vehicle market.  

Speaking at the Paris auto show earlier this week, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said the producer of Peugeot and Citroën cars may implement an “asset-light” strategy for those brands in China, repeating a phrase he used earlier in the year to describe his decision to pull out from the company’s only Jeep plant in the country.

Local partner Dongfeng Motor Group Co. was “very surprised” by his comments, a company representative said in a response to Bloomberg News. “Dongfeng Motor Group had never received any notice before,” the representative said.  

“Our group is in active discussion with Stellantis about the improvement plan of Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën Automobile Co.,” the Chinese automaker said. The joint venture has posted year-on-year monthly sales growth for the past 23 months, it added, stressing that Dongfeng has made an “extremely large effort and contribution to the growth.”

When questioned by reporters in Paris on his view on China, Tavares said he didn’t think having factories in the country is “indispensable” for the carmaker’s strategy.

A spokesperson for Stellantis in China said they had no comment on Dongfeng’s statement.

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