Automakers’ clone wars

While Jaguar Land Rover’s copyright case against Jiangling Motors may be a rarity, the Chinese automaker isn’t the first to clone Western designs.

The Landwind X7 (top) and Range Rover's Evoque (bottom)

The Landwind X7 (top) and Range Rover’s Evoque (bottom)

Jaguar has yet to release specific details on the case, but it has already won an injunction blocking the export of Jiangling’s Landwind X7 – a near clone of the Range Rover Evoque – to Brazil. The automaker is also believed to be pushing courts in China to block sales of the X7 within the country.

However, Jaguar is just one of many automakers frustrated by clones produced by China’s domestic automakers. Recent rip-offs include the Zoyte SR8, which is nearly identical to Porsche’s Macan SUV, and a sedan from JAC which copied the design of a popular Audi model and called it the A6.

The problem is not new, but increased exponentially a decade ago, when domestic automakers wanted a bigger share of an automaker dominated by foreign brands such as Volkswagen and Toyota.

General Motors was caught up in the clone wars, when a local company renamed itself Chery and then proceeded to roll out the QQ – virtually identical to the Chevrolet Matriz, where even the doors of the two models were interchangeable.

While Chery agreed not to use its name in the US market, GM failed to get the QQ out of the market in China, where at less than half the price of the Matriz, it outsold the original almost four-to-one.

Honda was another automaker affected, spending 12 years in a court case against a Chinese company that cloned its CR-V SUV. While Honda managed to win compensation, it was just over half of what it was seeking – $3.43 million compared to the $64.5m sought.

Jaguar Land Rover is hoping for more success by filing its suit outside of China, where courts are more sympathetic to copyright claims. However, it remains to be seen whether China’s regulators and courts will also take action.