Made-in-China: Land Rover’s Evoque Rip-Off

When China’s carmaker, Landwind, revealed its new sports utility vehicle at the recent Guangzhou Motor Show, brows must have furrowed for sleek as it was, it looked oddly familiar. The Landwind X7 SUV is more than just uncannily similar to Land Rover’s Evoque, it is an exact replica of the British marque’s award-winning luxury SUV; even the lettering across the hood bears the same font – LAND WIND, LAND ROVER…can’t tell the difference, really, unless one takes a closer look. The cloning is not just skin deep for under the hood of the X7, there is also a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Let’s play ‘spot the difference’:

The original: Land Rover Evoque
The copy: Landwind X7

The imported Land Rover Evoque retails for a hefty US$95,000 in China, but with the car maker’s new manufacturing plant in Changshu commencing local production of the model, the price is expected to drop; but Landwind will begin production of the X7 this year, and the ersatz version is expected to sell for a fraction of the original, for a comparatively cheap US$22,000.

The good people over at Land Rover are understandably miffed. “The fact that this kind of copying is ongoing in China is very disappointing,” Land Rover’s CEO, Ralf Speth, commented to Autocar. “The intellectual property is owned by Jaguar Land Rover, and if you break that IP then you are in breach of international regulations that apply around the world.” It is not yet clear whether Land Rover will take legal action, but Speth said that they would be discussing with their local JV partner, Chery, on their next course of action.

Ironically, the last high-profile case of copycat-ing in China involved Chery (karma in action?). In 2004, General Motors Daewoo (the automaker’s South Korean unit) filed a copyright infringement suit against SAIC-Chery Automobile for imitating the Daewoo Matiz for its Chery QQ (Chery sounds very much like Chevy, doesn’t it?). According to GM, tests proved that the QQ’s body structure and many of the components were similar to the Matiz, and multiple parts were interchangeable between the two purportedly different cars. SAIC-Chery denied any wrongdoing and said that the QQ spent more than a year in development and in the course of that, the Chinese automaker had added 24 design patents to its name. The lawsuit was settled almost a year later, the details of which were not disclosed.

So, should Land Rover bother? In a land where car ownership is as much a matter of pride as it is convenience, and where the nouveau riche are looking for ways to spend their newly acquired wealth, we don’t think that Land Rover and Land Wind would even be competing on the same level. Look at it this way: if someone wants and can afford an authentic Rolex watch, he is not going to buy a rip-off from a dingy roadside stall; he is going to saunter into a bona fide watch shop and buy that fancy watch so that he can show off to his friends!

images: landrover.com, carbuzz.com

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