Some car manufacturers in China blatantly copy paste designs of popular cars and sell them for a cheaper price
In its mission for world domination, China is rapidly buying stakes in global auto companies as well as entering into strategic joint ventures. China is the world’s largest car market, so most automakers naturally want to have their share of the pie. The country works as a low-cost destination for manufacturing as well as R&D, which has made it a hub for auto companies.
However, just like everything else, Chinese automobile industry also has its flip side. One area where Chinese carmakers have been heavily criticized is their fascination with creating near-identical replicas of popular cars. The worrying thing is that many of these vehicles are being produced by some of the largest ‘state-owned’ carmakers in China.
If it was the work of some obscure manufacturer, the entire thing could have been easily ignored and forgotten. Here’s a video posted by YouTube channel ‘carwow’ that exposes some of the worst ever Chinese knockoff cars.
Some knockoffs look so identical that it’s hard to tell the original from the fake. For example, Geely GE looks an exact copy of Rolls-Royce Phantom. Everything from the Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture to the classic radiator grille and design of headlights and bumper is exactly the same as that of original Phantom. However, customers won’t mind buying this copy, as it costs just £23,000 as compared to the £270,000 price tag of Phantom.
Another example is that of Jiangling Land Wind X7, which looks like an exact copy of first-generation Range Rover Evoque. JLR did file a case against the company, but it took several years to get a verdict in its favour. By then, JLR had already launched second-gen Evoque. Other popular cars that have been copied extensively include Porsche Macan, Mercedes G Wagon, Jeep Wrangler, and Tesla Model S. Even a low priced car like Suzuki Alto has been copied.
Limited legal options
Chinese knockoff cars are usually sold inside China, so legal options are fairly limited. Fighting a case against a state-owned Chinese car manufacturer can be a long drawn and costly battle. So most carmakers just choose to ignore such blatant design violations. In comparison, countries like US are quite strict about such things. One recent example is that of Mahindra, which has lost the case filed by FCA for design violations related to Roxor off-roader.
As an emerging world power, China needs to ensure that it takes such cases more seriously. The success of a car depends a lot on its design and copying it is no less than profiteering. Even if most such violations are limited to China, it does not seem appropriate. China should earnestly create laws that can effectively fight copyright violations in the country’s booming auto industry.