The Chinese have been ripping off automobile designs for years now. They imitate and generally ruin anything and everything they can get their hands on for the simple reason that they have no concept of how to design a car. They’ve ripped off everything from GM’s Hummer, to BMW’s X5 to the Smart FourTwo and by the looks of it, they have no plans of slowing down. The other problem is that when the Chinese do decide to design automobiles they go back to the 1950’s for their inspiration and make a total hash out of things. Below are 5 cars that we in New York would call Canal Street specials. These are cars that have been blatantly cloned and then sold to the public.
1. Dongfeng “Hummer”
Up first is the Dongfeng “Hummer” and believe it or not, this baby is advertised as hand crafted. Sure it looks like a Hummer and may even sound like a Hummer, but underneath it’s a pure backyard POS that would make any high school shop teacher cringe. The painted on whitewalls are definitely my favorite part.
2. Shuanghuan Noble
Bearing and uncanny resemblance to Smart’s FourTwo, the Chinese econobox known as the Shuanghuan Noble is anything but. So far this little bugger has been sold in several European countries including Greece. They even have the balls to rub it in Daimler’s face with the tag line: “Smarter than the rest”…. really, you think so?
3. Shuanghuan CEO
Now take a look at this masterpiece that is yet another creation from the honest folks at the Shuanghuan automobile company. This is the Shuanghuan CEO and to say it looks like a BMW X5 would be an understatement. My question is how much money do they really save on design work? We know flat out that these guys are not putting the money into safety components, so why not just hire some competent designers and be original.
4. Great Wall Florid
Another casualty that fell victim to the Chinese clone wars is Toyota’s little runabout, the Yaris. This copy is called the Great Wall Florid – the name rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it? Just look at the grill and the emblem placement as they’re in the exact same place! Seriously, on this one they just grabbed the tracing paper and went buck wild.
5. Lifan 320
Our last offering is the Lifan 320 which looks eerily close to the wonderful little MINI Cooper. The roof line is all but identical, as are the door panels and front end. This 5-door compact was showcased at Auto Shanghai in 2009 and is currently being sold to the public.
I suppose the thing that most surprises me about all of these companies is the blatant lack of originality and morality that comes with copying another designers work. All of these cars are being built somewhere, which means a plant and assembly line was created, parts were developed and workers were hired. I guess I’m just surprised that the hire ups in all of these companies actually gave the sign off on these cheap, knockoff copies knowing the original idea was stolen.