Zotye, a Chinese carmaker that takes hefty inspiration from existing car models from other manufacturers, is coming to the United States.
If you’ve never heard of Zotye, then you’re not an enormous automotive geek. We don’t really blame you. There’s not a lot to say other than the company was established in 2005 and since then has been shamelessly ripping off other car manufacturers.
Zotye T300? Looks a lot like a Mazda CX-3. Zotye T800? A striking resemblance to the Range Rover Sport. Zotye SR9? Basically a carbon copy of the Porsche Macan with the grille inverted.
But on the inside, none of these cars are as strong as their lookalikes. Most are built with smaller, cheaper engines and less luxurious interiors. It’s exactly like buying a cheap Chinese knockoff of anything else, only now you’re buying a cheap Chinese car.
And now they’re coming to the US of A.
In partnership with HAAH Automotive Holdings, who is headquartered in Lake Forest California, Zotye is developing a sales and distribution network to start selling cars stateside by late 2020. It’s taken four years of negotiations, but now they say they’ve got a tentative agreement with a large dealer network, with more to say in the coming months.
Their first model will be an SUV, but the press release says that a “specific model has not been announced." As Jalopnik points out, that statement is immediately blown up on the HAAH “About Us” page where they reveal that the first model will actually be the T600.
The T600 doesn’t look quite like a carbon copy of another carmaker’s vehicle, although it does look an awful lot like a cross between an Audi Q5 and a VW Touareg. Under the hood is a 1.5-L inline 4-cylinder or a 2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder. That 2.0-L turbo is actually a Mitsubishi-sourced engine with 190 horses, which seems the most likely model to make it over the pond.
In China, the T600 starts at $18,000. It seems highly unlikely for the car to stay that inexpensive in the US, especially after it’s made to abide by US safety and emissions regulations, but if it stays in the low 20s we might actually see a Chinese takeover of the cheap SUV market.