Check out the list below of 20 of the most blatant car ripoffs – not all of which have worked out for the imitator.
They say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” If that really is the case, then car manufacturers all over the world should feel very flattered by the attentions of the Chinese automotive industry!
Car production in China is still in its infancy, so it is perhaps only to be expected that domestic auto companies would look to established names elsewhere in Asia, Europe and in the US for inspiration. However, while inspiration is one thing, outright copies are another matter altogether.
There have even been a number of lawsuits against Chinese motor companies where the copies have been just too blatant to ignore. Fiat took Chinese firm Great Wall Motor to court in both Italy and China to try and prevent the sale of the Peri; a car Fiat says is a rip off of their popular Panda.
Given the risks of legal action, why do Chinese automotive companies take the risk? The main reason is to save money. It is estimated that automotive firms can save over $300m in research and development costs, simply by cloning an existing model’s engineering and design.
China may be the worst culprits for copycat car making, but they are not the only perpetrators who have even been caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar, stealing ideas from competitors. Check out the list below of some of the most blatant motoring copies – not all of which have worked out for the imitator.
20GEELY GE (CHINESE ROLLS ROYCE COPY)
Geely is one of China’s most successful car makers. Not only have they sold millions of cars in their native China since the company was launched in 1981, but they have also bought up a number of European and Asian competitors. They bought Swedish car company Volvo from Ford in 2010 and acquired a 49.9% share in Malaysia’s PROTON and a 51% share of Britain’s Lotus Cars in 2017, becoming a truly global motor manufacturer in the process.
Geely clearly has an appreciation for British cars. Not only have they bought a majority share in Lotus, and the company which makes the iconic London black cabs, but they also made their own copy of the ultimate British car – a Rolls Royce. The Geely GE even has its own version of Rolls Royce’s famous “flying lady” on the hood. In fact, the only obvious difference between the original Rolls Royce and the Chinese knock-off is the price; the Geely GE will cost you just $40,000 compared to $200,000 for the real thing. In a rather audacious move, Geely launched their high-end copy at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2009 – placing the GE just a few feet from Rolls Royce’s own stand!