Ah, China – a country synonymous with cheap, copycat manufacturing. Not only does it churn out millions of the latest Beebok sneakers and Ray-Bun sunnies, it’s up-scaled efforts include full-size, working cars, too
Name a product, any product, and you’re pretty much guaranteed that there’s at least one version of it available with a ridiculously cheap price tag, thanks to existing as a counterfeit in good ol’ China. Although rare, some products are on par with the original (looks wise at least) can fool some from afar, but a proper quality test soon reveals their true value. Of course this isn’t limited to the latest sneakers and watches, a few Chinese carmakers have been known to copy popular cars, often quite blatantly, too, and with China being a global superpower that lives by its own rules, any legal proceedings to put a halt to such practices is most often a waste of time. Some Chinese cars that have upset mainstream carmakers only ‘borrow’ basic styling cues and body lines from some of their well-known models, making the end product close enough to send the copyright lawyers into a frenzy. Other carmakers seem to shout, ‘YOLO!’ and go for as exact a copy as possible. Just how close to the original cars do these copies get? Well, let’s take a took…
Land Wind X7
This is one of the most well-known copies thanks to a widely publicised court battle being pursued by the aggrieved folk at Jaguar Land Rover. As you’d expect, JLR is understandably not very happy with the Chinese version of its Range Rover Evoque, marketed as a 2016 Land Wind X7. It’s almost a carbon copy when it comes to the exterior, but not so much inside or under the skin, unless your standards have taken a sudden drop, or you’re in need of a new set of contact lenses. The price tag of one Evoque will get you and each of your extended family a Land Wind each, and quite possibly some paper bags to cover their florid faces.
Okay, this one isn’t technically a copy like the rest. While Buick is one of America’s oldest brands, lately it’s been attacking the Chinese market with a fair amount of gusto, so much so that many models are for the Chinese market alone. You see, Buick is a branch of General Motors, so the manufacturer was able to basically rebadge an Opel Astra as a Verano. It was released in China in 2016, and like the rest of the Buick brand, it’s doing pretty darn well over there. So it is a copy, but the good kind, and hasn’t resulted in a bunch of cease-and-desist letters or legal wranglings.
Dongfeng Mengshi EQ2050
Picture a seriously patriotic American.
You know the ones we mean. A gung-ho, loud and obnoxious man’s man, who would wave The Stars and Stripes in his sleep if he could. The kind of man – probably a Trump supporter – who has an extensive gun collection, nothing but camo clothing in the closet and a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker on his mammoth Hummer H1. Then show him a Dongfeng Mengshi EQ2050 and watch the vein in his forehead start throbbing to the tune of ‘Born in the USA’, because Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng has copied the original Hummer H1, to the T. In this case, the EQ2050 is so good that some foreign armies are using them. That said, Hummer sort of copied, or ‘took inspiration’ from shall we say, the Lamborghini LM002.
Dezhou Weikerui V7
While most of the Chinese copies already mentioned closely resemble cars from other manufacturers, the Weikerui V7 really takes the cake. The ‘engineers’ at Dezhou are clear winners of the Laziest Car Design Award, because the Weikerui V7 is basically a Volkswagen Up! with different badges on the nose and tailgate. Seriously, if you swapped the badges out, no one would be any more the wiser. Until they’ve realised what a cheap, nasty and slow electric vehicle they were in. Actually, the Weikerui V7 isn’t a copy as much as a clone.
It’s quite possible that someone somewhere has passed by a brand spanking new Yogomo 330 in traffic and not noticed it was a Chinese import. The diminutive people carrier closely resembles Kia’s super-popular Picanto, so much so that from a distance, and even parked side by side you may not be able to tell the Korean original from the Chinese fake if you’re not a car guy or gal. The sales price would be a dead giveaway though. In 2016, this A-segment runner sold for the equivalent of R70 000. We’ll take the Korean original thanks.
One thing about China’s auto industry is that it’s leading the way in electric vehicles. There’s an abundance of companies involved in alternative power that could show Western companies a thing or two, but when it comes to wrapping up components into a working car, the wheels fall off. Figuratively speaking, of course. The Hanteng EV has some great inner workings, but when it came time to actually make the stuff look pretty while moving forward, the company turned to the Brits for help. Without asking. The design department seems to be a serious fan of the Jaguar F-Pace, but we don’t really blame them.
There’s a few Zotye Nomada running around in SA, but you’d probably have mistaken them for the Daihatsu Terios because they’re nearly identical. Sticking to Far Eastern ethos of blatant copying, in 2017 Zotye released the SR9, proving that they really don’t care much about copyright laws, or anything that the might of Porsche AG’s lawyers can throw at them. The Zoyte SR9 is a carbon copy of the Porsche Macan and to make it even more (or is that less) legit, it’s also available in the same colours. Even the interior layout has been copied, but the fit and finish, and the quality of those all-important oily bits… Things are clearly sub-par. Drat! Also, in this case, the range-topping turbocharged version only makes about a third of the power of the German original. Oddly, an EV version is on the cards, too. Mission E, anyone?