Chinese Copycat Cars

They do say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Well, if the ubiquitous they are correct, then the Chinese car industry really wants to flatter the rest of the world’s car makers. With more and more cars that are literally copied from well known brands from across the world the Chinese car market is full of copycat car models and the original makers are not seeing it as a complement

The Story

For a while now a number of Chinese manufacturers have been literally copying the shapes and styling details of a number of very well known cars to sell to their domestic market. These copies are considerably cheaper because they are built in their own country and naturally don’t have to carry the premium price tag that comes with prestige brands like Land Rover, Audi or BMW. The Chinese car industry is certainly not a small one, it accounts for something like 22.7% of all cars made around the world each year, this is about 18.7 million cars. So this is not the actions of a small and rather “in need” industry just trying to make it’s way in the world. China actually makes a lot of it’s own unique cars, and it also imports lots of cars just like any other country, but it doesn’t seem to mind having this rather shameful copycat industry to go along side the norm as well.

The Cars

The list of copycat cars is growing every year. There are some that are quite subtle where the end result ends up being more of a tribute or homage to the original design rather than a copy. But there are a number of models on sale that are completely and totally ripped off from the main stream model. These copies are considered rather funny by most people in the motoring press and general public, the names like the Landwind for a clear Evoque copy do make it all seem quite lighthearted. However, the manufacturers of the originals are not laughing about the situation and make every attempt to get these cars stopped.

The Landwind is actually one of the most famous of the fakes, it is quite literally a carbon copy of the Range Rover Evoque, anyone who wasn’t really paying attention would assume it was an Evoque, only on closer inspection of the interior or badges would they ever really notice the difference.

There is a fake Porsche Cayman called the Eagle, they have even copied the badge so from a distance it looks like it actually has a Porsche shield on the bonnet. One maker called Gelly thought they would attempt to recreate a Rolls-Royce Phantom with their GE model, it even has a fake Spirit of Ecstasy on the front, though the car is quite obvious to spot as a fake even at a distance.

The list goes on with with an eye watering bit of cheek by a brand called JAC, they thought they would recreate the Audi A6 by making a car called…the A6. Yes that’s right, if there was ever any doubt that these manufacturers were doing this intentionally JAC have now dispelled that by not even bothering to change the name of the model.

The Result

It is clear the car makers who spend millions designing the original cars are not happy, the legal issues surrounding these cars are complex but the general feeling is there is nothing that can be done. There are not actual international copyright laws, there are agreements but these have to be entered into by both countries and in this situation they don’t seem to have been. It does all get quite interesting when these models start appearing in the showrooms of companies that stock the original model and brand however. This could lead to the main brand pulling its cars from that partnership but the problem there is that people would then just go and buy the copy instead. By keeping in the market the original makers can prove their cars are better, even though they are more expensive.

The only thing to do is to sit back and wonder what these copycat brands will come up with next.