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For decades the Chinese have copied the best ideas from the west and produced similar products at a much lower cost. You can thank them for the exceptionally low price of computers, TVs, and a whole heap of other electronic goods.

However the design-stealing issue has now reached a new level, Chinese cars are starting to resemble European cars. Chinese manufacturers have been lucky so far, many have been able to get away with their copycat designs as they have kept their cars local, but with eyes set on a European expansion, western manufacturers are taking legal action.

Fiat Panda Copy

Fiat has gone to courts in Italy and China to block sales of the Peri, a car built by Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor which according to Fiat, is an almost direct replica of the Fiat Panda, Europe’s best-selling minicar.

BMW and Daimler (Mercedes) are also pursuing independent action against European distributors of Chinese cars to stop sales in their tracks.

BMW Chinese Copy

Meanwhile the world’s largest manufacturer has admitted it needs to do a better job of obtaining design patents for its models in worldwide markets after the Chinese made UFO, an SUV that closely resembles the second-generation RAV4, went on sale in Europe.

Toyota Chinese Copy

According to industry experts, manufacturers can save up to $315 million in development costs for a small car by cloning or reverse-engineering an existing model.

In the auto industry reverse engineering and learning from your competitors is common practise. For example, Ford Australia took a few BMW X5s apart during the design process of the Territory.

Rolls Rocye Chinese Copy

The motive behind such aggressive moves by European manufacturers is fear. Many manufacturers are afraid that the often poorly built counterfeits will hurt their brand image, and of course some consumers would happily pay 1/2 price for the same looking car from China than Germany.

Even though it’s currently the premium European manufacturers that are taking the majority of the legal proceedings, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said in an interview last month, that Chinese copies are likely to be “more of a problem for mass manufacturers than on the premium side.

Honda Copy

Fiat, Toyota and other volume sellers have a lot to worry about if this trend continues. The Fiat vs Great Wall court case should set a precedence in both China and Europe as to whether or not the Chinese can get away with copying European designs.

We expect the first court ruling in China by December and in Turin for Europe by end of January 2008,” said Monica Borgi, Fiat Group Automobiles senior legal counsel.

There is a possibility that Chinese manufacturers have already reverse engineered Australia’s best selling cars, so the next few years should be interesting!

Would you buy a $15,000 Chinese built Commodore look-alike?


  • Bavarian Missile

    I read that the Chinese had try to unveil their new MERC and BMW knock offs at one of the resent EURO Car Shows…..to quote DR PHIL ………What were you thinking” The arrogance of the Chinese and them copying products still astounds me!

    Go nail their arses Merc and BMW!!!!!!!!

  • http://navelcontemplation.blogspot.com/2007/03/i-don-get-fashion.html supercujo

    “Would you buy a $15,000 Chinese built Commodore look-alike?”

    No, but I wouldn’t buy a $30,000 Australian built Commodore look-alike either.

    These Chinese clones also have horrible crash test ratings, one way to stop would be to have a minimum crash test requirement. At present, all they have to do is meet the ADRs.

    Requiring a minimum 3 star safety rating would stop most of these Chinese companies in their tracks. In the end they would find it easier to create their own designs than to try to reverse engineer and copy the safety systems.

    Oh, it would also stop Holden importing crappy those crappy Daewoos Barinas with a 2 star rating. Two birds with one stone I guess.

  • John

    compared to their food…their cars arent that crash hot…

  • Bavarian Missile

    Hey John you been to China……..thats crap too. The Australian version of it is better. Really sus when I eat there! Cringe!!!!!!!!

  • http://. KFC

    FRUGAL ONE… Do not use that word as I did similar with Mahindra cars about Indians and I got in trouble by Alborz!

    Yeah China, been there. It is place were cats and dogs and pretty much anything that moves gets killed and eaten! Dont buy anything with meat is my motto on that one. Remember Shane Warne used to take Vegemite or Baked Beans with him when went to India!

  • John

    bavarian missile…aussie version of china? which one? footscray…st albans…richmond…or the many chinatowns that litter our cities?

    kfc…would the kfc in china contain anything else than chicken…um…actually dont go there…i like kfc…and just the mental image would ruin my favourite tuck shop…

  • matt

    what cheap chinese garbage. typical.

  • Me.

    OMG!!! I can’t get over what I saw at the top of the page. LOL!

  • http://. KFC

    John… I second that motion

  • Bavarian Missile

    Yep Klink, China is a great place to lose weight in!

    John…….ooooooouuuu I had KFC in China once I bet it didn’t cluck before they battered it! Shhhh don’t want to think about it !

  • John

    bav mis ur a crackup as usual…a friend of mine who knows a lot about chinese cuisine said if you go to china and see on the menu “fragrant meat” it is dog.

  • Me.

    These Chinese cars must go, because there is enough sh!t that was an Aussie icon, but now the pride of China.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Ohhhhhh……Thanks for the heads up John!

    “fragrant meat” it is dog.!!!!!!!!!! I cant read the menu ,our factory manager normally orders for us. I will have to let him know I don’t eat mans best friend!

  • Bavarian Missile

    Better get a bit of work done before I have to sack myself!!hehehe

  • John

    ditto…these danged car threads are gonna be the end of me…

  • Kiasu

    Oh goodness the ignorance that people sprout over food and culture is incredible. I am not sure if I should laugh or cry sometimes at these comments, yes thats you Bavarian Missile, KFC and John. Those suburbs that you mention John are Vietnamese, I hope you can tell the difference. *hope*

    Now in terms of the copies, some are obvious while others are variations. Every developing country share the same aspects, this will all change though once the country advances more. It’s a natural progression.

  • Going Ford, Is The Going Thing

    STUFF MY OLD NAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The Japanese copied the Ford Mustang with the Toyota some time back

  • All cars

    I bet ya if there was a Chinese version of Wheels magazine, it would have quotes like these “Great Wall takes on the world and win!”, “Looks like Mercedes, and drives better than BMW”, “Chinese finest, by a long shot”.

  • Going Ford, Is The Going Thing

    The great wall of China was to keep the rabbit’s out because there were too many rabbit’s in China.

  • Holden Insider

    Well, All Cars, at least these companies are owned by Chinese, while Holden is owned by American. Wheels is misleading people and damaging their own reputation.

  • David

    Who makes that C-class rip off, i gotsta have a closer look at that!

  • 280ZX

    I think the chinese should take a leaf out of their own book and follow my humble advice ” Man who go to bed with problem in hand, wake up in morning with solution on chest”
    Haaaaaa confuscious said that ! I think….

  • Hendrik

    Frugal One, id prefer you not use discriminatory language here since i am of chinese decent…

    back on topic, id be horrified to see these cars on australian roads just by going off the crash test footage…

    i agree with supercujo, we need minimum safety star ratings, that way the barina wont be allowed on showroom floors! hahaha piss poor car that barina.

  • Elitist

    Please don’t put the Japs in the same boat as the Chinese. THEY DO CONTRIBUTE through innovation and refinement.

    Who can argue that the WRX, NSX, GTR and Rotary are not great cars?

    The Japs are as proud as Italians and Germans.
    The Chinese are simply American’s but on a larger scale, making cars only they would buy.

    Go Axis, destroy them in court.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Hey Going Ford Is the Going Thing……..get a shorter name please……phew…you talking about the Silly {Celica}car they did?

    Henrick …..I am of Aboriginal descent but Abo doesn’t bother me…..stop being so politically correct! I wish more people in the World could laugh at themselves like true Australians…..{hop of the soap box now}!

    280ZX ……I am almost starting to like you….that was very good! I wish our factory would have a solution tomorrow morning …….Unfortunately its a big problem we face so maybe we need a larger hand…..?????????

  • http://navelcontemplation.blogspot.com/2007/03/i-don-get-fashion.html supercujo

    The Rotary? Wasn’t that engine invented by a German? It is just the Japs that continue using it. Stubborn, quirky or innovative, I dunno which.

  • Reaper

    Invented by “Wankel” wasn’t it. Took years to become reliable at the 3 tips of the rotor.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Really………..I love my rotary s!!!!!!!

    Sound awesome!!!!!

  • Elitist

    Yes Wankel did create it but for motor bikes, but it is today what it is because of the Japanese ingenuity and discipline.
    The Chinese on the other hand would have just waited for someone to perfect it then rip it off.

    Japanese DO CONTRIBUTE greatly and one day this tiny motor will be more fuel efficient than pistons as their engines range from 1 ltr to 1.3ltr turbo.

    Then watch the Chinese try and copy it after all the good work has been done.

    BTW there was once a Holden that use dthe rotary and it was called the Road Runner. The Torana was also said to be setup to use it as well but opted for piston as it was more reliable in the 70′s.

  • Reaper

    no seriously. Im pretty sure it was invented by a German named Wankel, took a longg time to overcome wear of the rotor tips but mazda figured it out.

  • Reaper

    You beat me to it “Elitist” with far more info. thankx mate.

  • Going Ford, Is The Going Thing

    B Missile, I’ve allways wanted a name longer than ME.

    Now you telling “GOING FORD IS THE GOING THING” that it’s too long!
    LOL.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Trust the Germans!!!!! Without them the USA wouldn’t have NASA………thats another story!!!

  • Watto_Cobra

    Too right. Werner Bon Braun. The father of modern rockets.

  • Watto_Cobra

    Oooops “VON” Braun

  • http://www.importjap.com/blog ImportJap

    The last line was such a bait :D

    Don’t discount the Chinese just yet, they could simply be like the Japanese when they started, loathed and laughed at.

    Some of those copies are pretty shocking though, bit like the fake ipods sold over there.

  • arsenalroc

    its pretty clear that there are a ton of racist white individuals here such as frugal one who seem to critize an entire race. how about you turn over 90% of the stuff in your house and see where it is made. You people have no right to critize other cultures such as food and such. aside from that- GO FIAT!- i wish the mods would do something about racist posts

  • Elitist

    Toyota and Mitsubishi are as Australian as Ford and Holden.

    In the end Id trust taking out a house mortgage if I worked at Toyota, then if I worked at Ford or Holden.

  • Hendrik

    Arsenalroc, thankyou for your forward thinking and level headed opinion…

  • Bavarian Missile

    Arsenalroc, said its pretty clear that there are a ton of racist white individuals here such as frugal one who seem to critize an entire race. how about you turn over 90% of the stuff in your house and see where it is made. You people have no right to critize other cultures such as food and such. aside from that- GO FIAT!- i wish the mods would do something about racist posts

    Mate get over yourself before I give you a real serve! How much lead are the Chinese dishing out to us because they want to make a buck!!!!!!! Fuck mate I have been dealing with the Chinese for years {know countless other manufacturers also same problems} coping our own design registered products ripping us off in tooling costs,not allowing us to move our own tooling from factory to factory in China so don’t start with me I know EXACTLY what the Chinese are capable of!!!!!!!….. And you made me say the F word now I am pissed!!!!!!!!

  • Elitist

    ImportJap,
    I have heard that comparison mentioned soo many times and its bullshit! (not screaming at u btw)

    The Japanese workforce has Pride in what they do, the Chinese don’t.
    The only reason Japs got laughed at was because Japs were releasing small cars in a Mad Max era of cars.
    In the 70′s fuel crisi, the Japanese were finally taken serious and respected for what they built.

    Their stuff was always good due to their work ethics…
    Chinese have no work ethics, hence the large divide in wealth there.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Here……here Elitist……..there is a huge ………. divide between wealth in the Chinese!

  • Elitist

    When you work in Japan, your whole family is guaranteed a job for life.
    In China when you loose your job…um…errr…Your replaced by someone else.

    I once saw the CEO of Mitsubishi goto one of the families in Japan when one of their cars caught fire from a factory defect and entered the house and went down on his knees and begged for forgiveness.

    In China when someone died of a defective part, um….errr…um, they just hired someone else that day.

  • Reckless1

    Elitist, don’t portray Mitsubishi as some god-like enterprise.

    Many of their executives went to jail for failing to do warranty recalls on faulty products, including wheels falling off school buses.

    And the Japanese ripped off many English cars in their early days, some with permission, some not.

    We were privileged to be able to choose between quality cars such as Vauxhall Viva and the frightful Toyota Tiara, all of which were far better than the current Chinese offerings.

    Many years ago I was warned to be cautious when doing business with international people, the saying was you had to count your fingers after shaking hands. I’ll leave it up to your imaginations as to which nationalities issued handshakes that were dangerous.

    I saw many people burned badly when purchasing computer parts from overseas during the PC boom days of the early 90s

    Now there is one country which has cost a toy company many millions of dollars by using lead paint on children’s toys. Won’t name the country, you know, may be interpreted as racist, but it serves Mattell right for taking their eye off the ball.

  • http://www.importjap.com/blog ImportJap

    Ok Elitist, I’ll admit you could be right. But maybe one day owning a Chinese car won’t be such a bad thing. I’d still buy Jap anyday though :)

    As for FIAT – anyone seen the new 500 based Abarth SS? What a ripper! *180HP*.

  • http://www.deathbypizza.net DeathByPizza

    Hey Elitist,
    That Rotary car was the Mazda Roadpacer (it was based on a Holden Premier).
    ;o)

    Back to the topic however, I think some successful lawsuits & minimum safety requirements may be what the Chinese manufacturers need to lift their game. Remember it all comes down to what’s profitable, if copied and unsafe cars aren’t able to be sold to foreign markets then the Chinese manufacturers will be missing lots of potential sales, and the oportunity to break into a new market, so they’ll play ball if they have to. I’d guarantee a relatively safe (and lawsuit free!) chinese car could sell well in the small (read: cheap) car market here.

  • Elitist

    Reckless,
    lets just say that every country has someone who has done a dodgey, BUT those who go unsuspected are in the end hurting themselves and their reputations. How many officials you see being executed or taking their own lives in China after being found of malpractice. BUT yet the country continues to produce this kind of culture.

    There isnt enough watch dog practice there.
    I feel this is the way it is due to the flipflopping practices of its own government…

    Communist when it suits them but trade like capitalists.

    With communism, everyone is poor equally.
    Captitalism, only select few help each other to gain market-share due to handshakes and not quality.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Elitist……….you are totally correct>>>>>>>>>>>

    We deal with Chinese manufacturers every day……You have NO comeback in that Country ,they do what they want,,,,even with Mattel……trust me they hide what they can and make money from what every thing they manufacture

    You think you should worry what is in your kids toys, what about what is in every thing you put in your mouth? Toothbrush included! They make every thing ….almost. Test every thing we come in contact with!

  • Bavarian Missile

    Sorry …………..You have no idea ………Reckless 1 the Chinese will cover up what ever they will………you have nooooooooo control what they get up to! To control every container that leaves a factory and get a CE approval costs $800.00 US ,then you have to trust the Chinese to have performed it ,we still don’t! Unless the the USA comes down on them as they are the biggest importers, none of us are safe with ANY product….stuff the toys….. There is so much you use EVERY day that comes from China that’s not tested.

    Our products are tested for arsenic ……ect do you even think about everything else they dish out to us! Try not too!

    We too make kids toys and supply the world market……Mattel would have had NO idea what the Chinese were doing to them!

  • Bavarian Missile

    Did I say I was going to bed? I am now!

  • Josh

    “Mate get over yourself before I give you a real serve! How much lead are the Chinese dishing out to us because they want to make a buck!!!!!!! Fuck mate I have been dealing with the Chinese for years {know countless other manufacturers also same problems} coping our own design registered products ripping us off in tooling costs,not allowing us to move our own tooling from factory to factory in China so don’t start with me I know EXACTLY what the Chinese are capable of!!!!!!!….. And you made me say the F word now I am pissed!!!!!!!!”

    Does that justify the right of critizing other cultures such as food and such?

  • Sexythang

    i agree with Elitist. Japanese have better work ethics. thier quality of work will always be better than most countries if not all.

    even thier sweet wrappers are so high quality.

    i would avoid chinese cars at all costs. even hyundai has not reached toyota levels yet and they would need another 20-30 years. so for china to reach hyundai levels….i’d be pretty old then and life would be too short to even consider buying a chinese car to save money.

  • Bavarian Missile

    Hey Josh……….I guess when the Chinese themselves are wary of what they eat then those from other countries should be too! Was it not recently a restaurant’s manager in China was soaking cardboard in Hydrochloric Acid to make it resemble meat to use in the restaurant! Trust the Chinese and what they serve you you think………….I don’t think so! Our factory manager who is Chinese tells us not to eat the salad in China as quiet oftern it is washed in dirty water!

    Mattel trusted their factory to continue on painting without lead paint after they performed their initial CE approval on the toys,but typical Chinese too save a buck do what they want !

    Buy Chinese cars……..even if they did finally have them 5 star safety rated who would trust them that every car that came out of the factory was the same as the first! Not me.