China’s copycat cars

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THE YEAR 2016 was a bumper one for car sales in China. Almost 25 million buyers took a new car home, many of which were built by Chinese production arms of companies we’re familiar with, such as Honda and Ford.

However, the country’s indigenous carmakers are becoming keen to cash in on the increasingly westernised tastes of Chinese motorists.

However, rather than creating rivals to the most desirable western cars, some manufacturers have taken to imitating them instead.

Many of the best-known cars from Europe and America have Chinese doppelgangers, but while many are all-but-indistinguishable from the originals, their Chinese makers aren’t necessarily breaching any law.

Unlike counterfeit watches or consumer electronics, these cars are sold under their own manufacturer branding and are, therefore, not pretending to be something they aren’t.

Of course, these uncanny resemblances are entirely deliberate. Many of these cars have a similar visual appeal to their well regarded Western counterparts and can be sold at a far lower price to suit increasingly aspirational – though cash-strapped – Chinese buyers.

The lower price means that construction standards, technology and safety are often far less sophisticated than similar-looking western models, which typically hit the market after a more extensive development programme.

Perhaps the cheekiest and most blatant example is the Land Wind X7, which would easily pass for a Range Rover Evoque if it overtook you on a busy motorway. Let’s have a look at the difference between the Evoque and it’s ‘evil twin’

THE LANDWING X7 v RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

The LandWind X7 is notorious for being one of the most conspicuous examples of Chinese imitation. It’s impossible not to spot the design similarities between the X7 and the Range Rover Evoque, even down to the positioning of the LAND WIND lettering on the bonnet.

This has caused considerable anger from Jaguar Land Rover, maker of the Evoque, particularly as the X7 sells locally for around £14,000, undercutting the imported Evoque on the Chinese market by £35,000.

The X7 is actually a larger car than the Evoque, but as convincing as it looks on the outside, its interior and general quality is a far cry from that of the British-built original, while the engine is a Mitsubishi design.

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