In the last couple of months I started noticing a lot of Smart cars -- the Mercedes-built mini car popular in European capitals -- popping up on the streets of Beijing. But upon passing by a parked one the other day, I realized they are not actually Smart cars, but a Chinese knock-off known as the Shuang Huan Xiao Gui Zu (双环小贵族).
These Hebei-province built cars differ a bit from the Smart Fortwo, despite the fact that the exterior styling is almost identical. The Xiao Gui Zu features a microscopic back seat and is front wheel drive, while the Smart Fortwo is a rear wheel drive two seater. The interior is also different and the prices are very different: a fully outfitted Xiao Gui Zu retails for 50,000 RMB (US$7,250) in Beijing while the imported Smart Fortwo could easily approach three times that price.
Shuang Huan is trying to use these points of difference to argue that there is no intellectual property violation happening despite the fact that there obviously is. And, predictably, Mercedes lawyers have been on the case, blocking the Xiao Gui Zu from showing at the Bologna auto show last year and threatening further legal action to keep the car out of the European market.
Shuang Huan is no stranger to copying German cars. One of their other cars, the SCEO, is a knock off of BMW's X5 SUV.
Luke @ 16:43 | .(1152) |
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