A Chinese joint venture producing Jeep sports utility vehicles for Stellantis NV is to file for bankruptcy, the European automaker said yesterday, after complaints last month that political tensions with the West were affecting the business environment.
Stellantis NV chief executive officer Carlos Tavares had said the auto giant would consider ending production in China, questioning whether the stability of relations between Beijing and the world could be guaranteed.
Shareholders have given their approval for the joint venture to file for bankruptcy as it is “in a loss-making context,” Stellantis said in a statement.
The company would continue providing services to existing and future Jeep customers in China, it said.
The automaker had terminated the Jeep joint venture with local partner Guangzhou Automobile Group Co (GAC, 廣州汽車集團) in July, and is in talks with local partner Dongfeng Motor Group Co (東風汽車) about its Peugeot and Citroen brands.
In a further step back from the world’s biggest auto market, Stellantis’ Opel brand in September said it was pausing a planned expansion in China.
The Jeep joint venture’s “assets were no longer sufficient to pay off all debts,” GAC said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday, confirming that the venture would file for bankruptcy.
“Affected by factors including decline in product competitiveness, [the GAC-Stellantis venture’s] production and operations have gradually fallen into difficulties,” GAC said.
Unlike German rival Volkswagen AG, which sold 3 million vehicles in China last year, Stellantis has never broken through there.
The company aims for revenue of 20 billion euros (US$19.8 billion) in China by 2030 with its 14 brands, but Tavares last month complained of unequal treatment from Beijing.
“The red carpet is rolled out for Chinese manufacturers in Europe, and that’s not how we’re welcomed in China,” he told reporters at the Paris Motor Show.
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