China’s auto clones often sell better than original image

The world’s largest auto market is still called an emerging market, noting not the size but its maturity. And en route to “adulthood” the road is laden with mistakes.

The latter statement is debatable though in our case in point. We’re dealing here with the copycat phenomenon – if you went at least once at any of the major international auto shows you should have noticed the Chinese guys taking thousands of pictures of key models. The end result from that stance would be that the massive number of local Chinese automakers will often emulate – or clone, to be more specific – that international, successful model into a more affordable, albeit worse, brethren that has other badges. The global automakers scream copyright infringement, while the Chinese reply it’s just competition and the customers can have that dream car at the fraction of its real cost. We have examples spanning across all classes and price ranges – from the Geely GE, a knock-off to the classic Rolls-Royce models to the Suzhou Eagle EV. The latter even goes one step further, copying in part the Porsche Cayman, in part the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and also slapping an electric powertrain for good measure.

One of the best known copies is the LandWind X7 – which is almost indistinguishable from the original – the British Range Rover Evoque, at a price that looks like a bargain to add to the insult: around $22,000 as opposed to $62,000 for the Range. And the complaints made by the foreign automakers have a great record of being… ignored. And the result is that copycats sell better than the original, thanks to the dirt-cheap prices. And without Chinese government crackdown, the situation isn’t going to change soon.