Chinas tryst with the Xerox machine

By: Deepesh Rathore

I was recently in China for the Beijing Auto Show. Having roamed around the New Delhi Auto Expo a number of times, the Beijing show is a pleasant surprise in the sense that it is housed in about one-fourth the area of the New Delhi show. At the same time, Beijing has four times the number of new cars significantly improving the new-cars-per-square-inch score.

While Delhi is all about trying to find a new car launch, Beijing was all about trying to find an original new car design. Yes, the Chinese are still as original as Boyzone and respect IPRs as much as Pyongyang respects Washington. The whole event was a terrific showcase for copycats, or to put it succinctly, innovative copycats.

So we had copies of BMW X5s, powered by Mitsubishi diesels, made by ShuangHuan Auto and badged as SCEO. The company also had SUVs that mixed and matched the front and rear ends of the Nissan X-Trail (Greatwall Sing), Chevrolet Colorado and Land Cruisers (Dadi Shuttle). And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Chinese also make the Electric Car City Smart which incidentally looks very similar to the Smart ForTwo. Thankfully, it has now been discontinued, reports Automotive News Europe. The top brass at DaimlerChrysler would certainly have heaved a sigh of relief.

There are more. The Hongqi Limousine is a cheap knock-off on the Lincoln Towncar while there is a Rolls Phantom look-alike masquerading as the Red Flag. Hyundai recently received a taste of its own medicine in China when Haunghai Automobile unveiled an SUV with the head of the new Santa Fe and the tail of the Sorento. That's what you call a double blasphemy. There is also the Laibao SR-V, a body double of the last generation Honda CR-V.

Perhaps the biggest rip-off has been in the form of the Chery QQ, a close copy of the Chevrolet Matiz. GM fumes and wrings its hands and Chery produces another half-a-dozen rip-offs on the same platform.????

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