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The Chinese Gauntlet

Posted by: Gail Edmondson on September 11, 2007

Shuanghuan CEO

The Chinese have dared the wrath of BMW. At the Frankfurt Auto Show which opens Sept. 13, German importer China Automobile is proudly showing the CEO, an SUV which has a striking resemblance to the BMW X5.

Rumors that China Automobile would show the CEO, together with a mini that looked like a Mercedes Smart, triggered the fury last week of BMW and DaimlerChrysler. Both companies insist the Chinese imitations infringe on their intellectual property rights, and that they will pursue legal action. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said a court already ruled in their favor. The Smart-looking Nobel was nowhere to be seen on the stand. China Automobile owner Klaus Schloessl insists the Chinese models built by Shuanghaun do not ressemble the BMW X5 or Smart.

The silhouette is hard to mistake and many features are clearly inspired by the X5. But I climbed into the drivers seat to take a closer look. The fit and finish inside the car is hardly up to snuff. There are only two airbags. And the engine, in case you were wondering, is a model licensed from Mitsubishi. And the price tag — 27,999 Euros ($36,000), is not exactly cheap. Now, the real question is whether Germans will shell out $36,000 for a car that doesn’t drive like a BMW, but just looks like one.

Reader Comments


September 12, 2007 7:34 AM

The price of a chinese car is low, compared to western brands, but of we count the price you pay in terms of safety, you realize real cost of a chinese car. No car made by a chinese brand are reliable in terms of safety for driver or passengers, have a look at NCAP test. You save some bucks and you pay with your life or beloved passenger's life: do you really want to trade? I don't. Don't buy a chinese car if you care about yourself.

Hsow We

September 12, 2007 3:52 PM

im' shure that this is a good car from the best chineses manufature. It is touwsends less monie then germen cars thet may lookie same, but it is not same. Please to make sure to have lovely infants in they approve child seats and all is ok,yes? Then to have best of time to drive it!


September 12, 2007 4:02 PM

I'd have to agree with the comment that Luca has made.


September 12, 2007 5:25 PM

Those are precisely the sentiment towards Japanese and Korean brands when they entered the market. Let's see how fast they improve


September 12, 2007 9:14 PM

DaimlerChrysler are knock off artist themselves... The 300 is a cheep knock off of the Bently... hmmm whats all the fuss about... I will gladly forgo a bit of saftey and comfort to have a 1/2 price BMer... I suspect so too will the mass market...


September 13, 2007 4:06 AM

It's funny to say that any similarity is
imitations infringe. Take China for
example, so many corporations outside China are now engaged in such manufacture whose product model is at least 90% similar with China brand. If those guys beliver that China-made goods are unsafe, pls them check their appliance and other stuff imported from China. Are you safe?


September 13, 2007 12:23 PM

Once again China's business ethics are there for the world to behold. They will likely invest their pirated profits in tne countries that reflect their moral values... North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe etc...

Fung Shue

September 13, 2007 2:15 PM

Well, what can I is a pattern in developing your own industry. In 1950s and 60s Japanese camera companies (Canon, Nikon, etc.) copied German Leica cameras. And their electronic companies copied from American counter parts. Koreans and Taiwanese did the same with the Japanese. Now it's the Chinese' turn. But the question is is there any ethical standard doing it, ie. the quality and the safety of the products? Looking at the ruthless behaviors of the Chinese government, I would be highly skeptical if they will come to terms with any reasonable level of responsibility. Look at what they to in Africa these days. Or for that matter what they have been doing in Tibet for the last forty years. In their mind, there is an incredible safety in numbers. They almost defeated the American military during the Korean War in sheer numbers of their "bullet catcher" disposable soldiers. Now they produce all their products for us to consume using their disposable laborers.
But then again who prompts such motivation? There are more than enough blame to go around. So knock yourself out! Buy, drive & enjoy this knock-off el-cheapo and feel good that your have a begain above all the victims who toiled to make it. I think that might be a good for your bottom line.


September 17, 2007 9:42 PM

You would think Germany is a hard market to sell imported cars. I think they hardly buy American cars.


September 18, 2007 6:19 AM

China car will improve fast ... Yes because they are taking some western cars knowledge and patents without paying the price ... There is a "word" for this ...

Cold Car

September 23, 2007 2:02 AM

fung shue: " is a pattern in developing your own industry. In 1950s and 60s Japanese camera companies (Canon, Nikon, etc.) copied German Leica cameras."

and it even goes back to 18th century america, where there were knockoffs of british manufactured goods.

all NEW industries must start somewhere. often, by imitating the current best products. as they say, "Imitation is the best form of flattery."

Dick Turpin

January 23, 2008 12:46 PM

Can't help laughing really, the japanese spend decades copying western designs [original lexus ls400 any one] now it's their turn. I reckon the 3 series and 5 series are built on the back of the rover 2000 triumph 2000 concept anyway, so bad luck box heads maybe you'll end up with no motor industry like us Brits.[not bitter here;-)

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