The North American Auto Industry is facing the biggest downturn in its history, with $Billions in losses every quarter. Plant closures and job cuts by the thousands are now a monthly occurrence. Automotive analysts have questioned GM and Ford's viability going forward. Gas prices are widely believed to the primary cause however now there is another threat lurking around the corner. This one could be bigger and more ominous than any other that American automakers have faced previously.
China has begun pumping out more cars and trucks than ever before at ridiculously low prices. While most of their current vehicles built to date have been sold in China and Russia, they have been systematically progressing toward their stated goal of domination of both the North American and European Auto Industry.
Cheap Chinese labor along with much lower manufacturing costs and environmental standards along with aggressive pricing are quickly making Chinese models a fixture in the automotive marketplace worldwide. Auto Industry experts have suggested that it is only a matter of time before westerners, stung by soaring gas prices, choose to buy these Chinese-built vehicles at a fraction of the cost of their domestic car counterparts.
If this seems something far-fetched, or you think we still have time, this video shows how Chinese manufacturers are invading Russia, using it as a test market to launch a wholesale attack on the North American and European Auto Marketplace.
Chinese Auto Manufacturers on a fast track to "world domination" are not even bothering to design their own vehicles, turning instead to cloning popular Western vehicle models. The saying "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" may be true in some cases, however this takes that statement to a completely new level.
The following are six Chinese built car clones shown beside their original counterparts.
You be the judge on whether or not you would be first in line to buy one of these cars at fire sale prices:
The Shuanghuan Noble is a dead ringer for the Smart ForTwo, even the cars slogan pokes fun at the original "Smarter than the Rest". To look at the vehicle from any angle you would think the same company produced them. Mercedes Benz, which is Smart's parent company, has even threatened to sue if the Noble is ever sold in Europe. The clone did make it to the Frankfurt Auto Show however no news has been released yet on a potential lawsuit.
While the Shuanghuan CEO is a look a like to the BMW X5, the similarities are only skin deep. The Chinese version is nothing like the German original. Quality and safety take a back seat to cost cutting. Instead of advanced unibody construction with modern suspension you get body welded on frame construction with rear leaf springs. As for powering this big SUV they only offer one engine choice – a four-cylinder? Not the "Ultimate Driving Machine" you were imagining.
This one is not a true clone, but a clone impostor. BMW has sued Shuanghuan's importer in Germany saying its SUV is a copy of its X5. BMW has no plans as of yet to sue Shuanghuan itself.
At first glance the Lifan 320 seems like a carbon copy of a Mini Cooper however they have included two additional rear doors. Not exactly original thinking however at least there is visual difference. Under the similar lines of the steel body the cars are polar opposites. While the mini was designed to hug the road, the Lifan 320 was intended to provide only basic transportation, nothing inspiring. Like so many other Chinese clones, this is more like those "cheap Rolexes" that are made in China with no attempt to replicate the quality of the original.
While some might say the Great Wall Coolbear is a unique name, there is nothing original about this package. The body style is an exact copy of the Scion xB, and they didn't stop at the exterior. The interior of the Coolbear even includes the centre instrument cluster just as the Scion xB originated it. I don't think you can find a original thought on the Coolbear if you tried.
What do you get when you cross a Mercedes Benz and a BMW? Less than you would hope for if the label says "Made in China". While the BYD "Build Your Dream" F8 is an exact clone of the Mercedes Benz CLK convertible in almost every visual cue, they even took something from BMW. The logo of the Company "BYD" is very similar to the "BMW" logo with its Blue and White colours and a black circle border. I guess the thought was if you combine two in one neither might notice.
Not to be outdone with civilian vehicles, the Chinese Government is getting into the car cloning action. It has successfully cloned the Hummer H1, a staple of the US military. While this vehicle is not for sale, it is being produced in large numbers for the Chinese Army. A clone army? That sounds like something out of Star Wars. The next time we see on the news Chinese soldiers rolling tanks and trucks in Tiananmen Square, could they be driving cheap knock-offs of American vehicles?
Once upon a time, the thought that Korean or Japanese vehicles could compete with Detroit seemed preposterous. Today Toyota sells more vehicles worldwide than General Motors does, with a much less bloated distribution system. What will happen once China weighs in? A short stroll around your home, scanning the dozens of "Made in China" labels on items you have purchased over the past few years, might offer a clue. The question has to be asked, going forward what will the North American Auto Industry look like 30 years, 20 years or even 10 years from now? To see where the Chinese car industry might be headed, check out the China Car Forums.
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