Stellantis' state-owned Chinese partner accused the European company of disrespecting customers in the world’s biggest auto market in an escalation of a dispute over their failed Jeep venture.
Guangzhou Automobile Group on Friday said comments Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares made the previous day on how trust had broken down between the two companies over their Chinese manufacturing partnership were “unbelievable.”
Several Stellantis ventures “failed to achieve success, which is the result of a lack of respect for customers in the Chinese automobile market,” GAC Group said in a statement.
The latest twist in the months-long back-and-forth comes after Tavares on Thursday during earnings presentations and an interview with Bloomberg Television flagged growing risks of operating factories in China because its politicians are increasingly meddling in business.
Tavares added that GAC did not want to abide by the binding memorandum of understanding the companies had signed and "preferred to be in breach, rather than execute it. We took the conclusion that of course trust was broken."
Stellantis announced last week it would shutter its only Jeep factory in China, saying it was an unprofitable enterprise best replaced with imports. Jeep is exiting as more established foreign auto brands have struggled to maintain their share of the market, raising questions about their long-term future in China.