Two Extremes in Chinese Knockoffs
Continuing on a humorous, yet also pathetic road that we’ve traveled before, two of the latest Chinese knockoff vehicles have come to light, and they couldn’t be more extreme opposites. For previous coverage on this, click here.
The first is called the Shuanghuan Noble, and is almost identical to DaimlerChrysler’s Smart ForTwo. Automotive News reported that Mercedes-Benz may be filing a lawsuit to block the Noble’s sales in Germany. There are two major differences between the cars, visual similarities aside: The Smart is a two seater and starts at €9,490, while the Noble clone is a four seater and is expected to sell for just €7,000, making it the least expensive vehicle sold in Germany.
China Automobile Deutschland is the intended importer of the vehicle, and its managing director, said Klaus Schlössl said the car only “bears a resemblance to the Smart ForTwo from certain angles” and that “The cars are priced differently and are in a different class in terms of quality. There are many cars on the road today that look similar to each other.” Well, I’ll concede that they’re priced differently, and that the quality is likely going to be a strong point of differentiation, but the cars look similar from more than “certain angles.” Here’s hoping that DaimlerChrysler prevails in keeping this vehicle out of Germany.
Our next example is the Dongfeng Crazy Soldier, which looks curiously similar to the AM General Humvee favored by the US Military, and previously in vogue by “urban soldiers” in the 1990s. The vehicle was developed in cooperation with Chinese Army officials over several years, but it is now for sale to civilians in the Chinese domestic market.
Let’s see – failed crash tests, failed quality, and copycat designs. Sounds like a recipe for a successful industry, doesn’t it? I’m not saying that the Chinese auto industry will never be successful, but it’s not going to happen overnight.