Volkswagen, Renault and Stellantis are thinking the unthinkable, exploring tie-ups with sworn competitors to make cheaper electric vehicles and fend off existential threats.

As Tesla and Chinese rivals expose competitive weaknesses at Europe’s biggest mass-market carmakers, it’s become clear that a sense of urgency is growing and a business-as-usual approach is a losing option.

There’s a "perfect recognition that in the future, the companies which are not fit to face the Chinese competition will put themselves in trouble,” Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis — the company created from the 2021 merger of Italy’s Fiat and France’s PSA Group — said in an interview last week. He has previously said that Europe’s auto industry faces a "bloodbath” if it doesn’t adapt.