Chinese Copycat Cars

Imitation, they say, is the most sincere form of flattery. Car manufacturers around the world though, are seeing red . Design imitation has always been a part of any industry. A familiar tail lamp here, a head lamp there are not viewed seriously. Hyundai Motors does it all the time, not that they are the sole exponents of design theft. But the recent launches in the Chinese automotive industry seems to be stretching this a bit too much. Inspite of stupendous growth in automotive sales in China, the concept of ‘indigenous’ vehicles is nowhere to be found. Try as they might, to convince you otherwise, almost all Chinese cars that we see in motorshows and in the advertisements are outrageous copies of existing models of other manufacturers.

There is no dearth of world class engineers and designers in China. Indeed, the depth of engineering in certain Chinese cars has rattled several established players in the global arena. Sadly, the design of these vehicles show total absence of ethics, and in some cases, utterly disgraceful design theft. With the Chinese market booming and the overall national economy growing by leaps and bounds, the idea of Chinese auto makers dominating the world market and buying several illustrious and prestigious automotive brands is somewhat unsettling and a cause for concern.

It’s not just cars either. Bike manufacturers across the globe are also being targeted by cheap Chinese copies of their own products. Bajaj Auto for instance, saw their stellar indigenous efforts being blatantly copied by a Chinese company called Taian Chiran Machinery Company Ltd. The Bajaj Pulsar was sold as the Gulsar in Latin America and by other names in various parts of the world as well. Bajaj ultimately sued and won the case, but this particular incident is particularly audacious. Take a look at the pictures and you can surely understand why Bajaj Auto was peeved. Even the font on the fuel tank is the same!

As far as the cars are concerned, Toyota seems to be a popular target. The Rolls Royce Phantom has spawned numerous copies both in China as well as Korea. Rolls Royce can afford to take it lightly, since their customers aren’t looking for value for money – they’re looking for unrivalled presence, prestige and the experience of owning the world’s finest motor car. For the rest though, it’s a massive headache.

Chinese products may not be able to match the Japanese or the Europeans in engineering standards, but they’re getting there, and their prices seriously undercut their opposition. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) can be claimed, and some Chinese products have been banned, but outright duplicity is still rampant. If companies like BYD (Build Your Dreams!) and Great Wall find legal loopholes to sell these copies, and find enough buyers to succeed commercially, the Made-in-China label will go from ‘deplored’ to ‘vehemently hated’ in the minds of car manufacturers and automotive enthusiasts. We can only hope that the rest of the automotive marques don’t fall into Chinese ownership due to financial difficulties.


8 Responses to “Chinese Copycat Cars”

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