The Chinese manufacturing industry is well known for it's knockoffs. Whether it be fashion, electronics or household goods, they can whip up a clone moments after it hits the public, sometimes even before that. Some Western manufacturers have even decided that if they can't beat 'em, join 'em, and are simply allowing the Chinese to build their designs through licensing agreements and joint venture partnerships.
Did you know that they replicate cars too? It's been a problem for some time. In the mid 2000's, auto manufacturers were suing Chinese auto makers left and right. BMW and Fiat were popular targets.
The Shanghai Motor Show was full of Chinese manufactured vehicles, many of which bore a striking resemblance to those from other auto manufacturers. For example, a purple convertible offered by Tongi Auto looks suspiciously like a Chrysler 200 with it's grille replaced.
Many designs are nearly identical to those offered by other companies, the differences being only subtle enough so as to not violate official patents. Some go so far as to imitate the original brand's badge too.
Instead of fighting and suing, Toyota has authorized Chinese company Foton to replicate it's popular HiAce van through a joint partnership licensing agreement.
Toyota sued Chinese company Geely for not only ripping off it's styling, but for using a similar logo as well.
Perhaps the most famous automotive #Chinese knockoff is the Lifan 320 which is almost an exact replica of the Mini and the company has been selling it for years. It's so successful that it's taken on a life of it's own and the company has just released a slightly larger version of it. Lifan is considered the most prolific automotive knockoff producer in China. Their Lifan 630 is a blend of a Nissan Sentra and a Lexus sedan.
At the recent Shanghai Auto Show, the Great Wall Kulla electric car concept was being showcased. The car is identical to Renault's Twizy, right down to details like a single light strip across it's rear. What made the situation more interesting was that the real Renault Twizy was also at the show.
The jury is out on the quality of the ripoffs, but they do say that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca