This weekend I noticed a smart car next to our house. At least it looked like a smart, but when I had a closer look I saw there were quite some differences. Then I also noted the brand name Toyota on both the side and back of the vehicle. I got a bit excited, was this possibly a prototype of the new Toyota iQ? Because I started my career in the automotive business and also occasionally write columns for a car magazine I still follow what’s happening in the industry.
Looking a bit better at the car I noticed that it had AMG on its doors. That’s a bit strange for a Toyota, because AMG is part of Mercedes-Benz. I looked up the Toyota iQ on my iPhone and compared the cars. It certainly was not the same car, so I realized the owner put some fake Toyota badges and a fake AMG sticker on his car.
So what car is it? The Toyota branding put me on the wrong foot for a moment, but then I realized it must be one of China’s smart clones (there are several of them). Looking at my pictures from a smart clone at last year’s Shanghai Autoshow I figured out that this is the Shuanguan Noble (see last year’s picture here or this YouTube clip).
So the owner not only drives in a cloned car but also changes it to a better brand. Now he drives a double fake car, a bit embarrasing…
Quite some people in Shanghai think it’s a shame and pure protectionism that Shuanghuan is not allowed in Europe with their fake X5 and fake Smart. Let them first invest in some real own designs instead of just being a lousy copycat (Shuanghuan X5 scores about 1.5 stars on the NCAP)
Have you check if it’s an electric car ? I might have seen this car few month ago in Algeria (a future large-scale chinese/indian car consumer)
@Erwin: I understand BMW and Mercedes when they go to court against Shuanghuan, because that company almost copies the design 100%. But would they really lose customers? Surely someone who would buy a BMW would never buy a Shuanghuan (and the other way around). I am for free competition, just let these guys on the European market. They will find out quickly that they cannot compete there (yet).
@tortue Don’t think this is the electric car. However, there is another Chinese smart copy which is an exact copy of the original smart that uses electricity as its power source. Check out this article: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=117145
Is this the one you saw in Algeria?
I think the question is not that they’re going head-to-head with the real Smart… but if Daimler sues them, it one more grain of sand in the financial gears of a potential future serious competitor. They may get that from trying their luck by themselves in Europe too, mind you, but you might as well show that you’re not gonna let this go impunently, it’s only natural.
But the fake tags thing is all-too common… (and it makes me laugh every time.. 😀 )