HANGZHOU, China, May 14 (Reuters) - Automaker Stellantis will start to sell electric vehicles (EV) from its Chinese partner Leapmotor in nine European countries from September to expand its offer of budget cars, CEO Carlos Tavares said on Tuesday.

Sales from the Stellantis-Leapmotor joint-venture will be extended, starting from the fourth quarter of 2024, to South America, Middle East and Africa, and India-Asia Pacific, Tavares said in Hangzhou, China, where Leapmotor is based.

The JV, called Leapmotor International and 51%-owned by Stellantis, is aimed at selling Leapmotor EVs beyond China and also producing them outside China relying on Stellantis manufacturing footprint.

It is part of a wider partnership between the two groups which saw the Franco-Italian group saying last year it was buying a 21% stake in Leapmotor in a $1.6 billion deal.

Through the JV, Stellantis has exclusive rights to build, export and sell Leapmotor products outside China, a first for a legacy Western automaker, at a time when a number of Chinese manufacturers, including BYD, Chery and


are announcing or assessing new plants in Europe.

Tavares and Leapmotor CEO Zhu Jiangming did not provide details about exactly where Leapmotors EVs could be built in Europe.

Tavares however said that any decision on manufacturing would be based on cost and quality assesments and that Stellantis'

Tychy's plant in Poland could be a possibility.

(Reporting by Sarah Wu in Hangzhou and Giulio Piovaccari in Milan; additional reporting by Zhang Yan in Shanghai; editing by Alvise Armellini/Keith Weir)