Have you heard of Mountain Lightning, Sunbucks Coffee, Johns Daphne, PolyStation 3, Benign Girl, Johnnie Worker, or even Adidos? Well, these are the ‘alter ego’ brands for Mountain Dew, Starbucks Coffee, Jack Daniels, PlayStation 3, Barbie Girl, Johnnie Walker, and Adidas, respectively–and they’re made in China! See, the Chinese folk are known for a lot of things, but one of their traits that almost always make them part of various lists is being copycats.
These guys have managed to copy whatever they get their hands on, and the automotive industry hasn't been spared. In fact, they’re becoming more and more famous for building vehicles that have uncanny resemblances to the original designs from other countries, especially American cars. Their own motor shows, like the Shanghai one, are littered with Chinese-built machines that'll make you feel a sense of déjà vu. Funny enough, the car industry in China is growing by the day at such a fast rate with the country’s leading automakers spreading their influence globally by acquiring foreign car brands and improving on them.
Call it inspiration, but what puzzles many is why they can’t just do their own thing. Worse yet is that if the original designer of the car thinks his design has been copied, it won’t be that easy to prove, given the fact that there aren’t any international copyright laws, just mere agreements on the use of intellectual property. Anyhoo, here are the top 20 famous Chinese knockoffs that are shameless rip-offs of the originals.
This car has a very interesting and inspirational story behind it. It's about two auto enthusiasts who've been supercar fans since they were little, and because they couldn’t afford their own Lamborghini Diablo SV, they built one. Meet Wang Yu and Li Lintao–gearheads from childhood but now grown men with big ambitions. After returning home from their mechanical engineering studies in the UK and Germany, they decided to build their own Diablo, and so, they sourced parts from Taobao (Chinese eBay). Soon enough, the Diablo VT was a reality.
The car is powered by a Toyota-sourced V8 engine that can run from 0-60 in 4.8 with a top speed of 192 mph.
Their Dream Project set them back about $812,000—a lot of money, but totally worth it.
This one came close to looking all Porsche—logo and everything—but the keen gearhead's eye will twitch at the sight of this thing. They call it the "Eagle," but if they had asked for suggestions from the public, something like "Ferrasche" or "Porschari" would've done because it's like they stuck the front of a Ferrari to the back of a Porsche, then came up with a logo to 'convince' people it's the closest thing to owning a Porsche—eiowl! Now you see why car experts labeled it as a ‘pastiche of the worst kind.’ Sadly, the industry’s hands are tied as they cannot do anything about the similarities these Chinese clones have to the original designs because the designs can’t be protected in China. Under Chinese law, proving to the court that a Chinese automaker or manufacturer has infringed on a patent is an uphill task.
When we say they copy everything, we mean just that: everything—even the Tesla S model. Yeah, the one Oprah bought a couple of years back that added her to the Tesla mamba train. So now, the Chinese, hopefully not inspired by the media godmother, went ahead and created their own electric version: the Youxia X—kind of like the KnightRider, but the front is everything Tesla.
The car is powered by an electric motor that has 348 hp and 440 Nm of torque, with an option of different battery capacities from 40 kWh up to 85 kWh.
Inside is a large touchscreen LCD from which vehicle controls are accessed, and you can connect your devices to the system. The front grille can display anything from the KITT OS red lights to the Youxia logo to a cat or whatever–anything goes!
Also known as the "Dongfeng EQ2050 M3D" (massive name), this car is a replica of the Hummer H2, color and all. There are at least three Chinese automakers who manufacture copies of the Humvee, two of which heavily copied a US-made chassis, gearbox, and diesel engine, but currently, these Chinese companies can make indigenous Humvee-like car parts.
The Dongfeng Hummer aka Brave Soldier is based on an imported Hummer H1 chassis and copied most of what’s on the Hummer like the bonnet scoop, the side profile, the headlamps, and even the straight rear end with the tail lamp cluster.
Under the hood is a 4.5-liter turbodiesel engine with 570 Nm torque, mated to a 5-speed manual or automatic, delivering a top speed of 135 km/h—not bad for a cloned version.
This car was manufactured after its predecessor, the Jonway UFO, was discontinued, so it’s basically a renewed version of the latter. The Chinese literally picked the Toyota Rav4, Europe’s favorite SUV, and did very few modifications, but the interior is a complete copy of the Rav4 itself. In fact, you’ll think you’re in one until your brain reminds you it’s not the real thing. Zhejiang Jonway Automobile Company is responsible for this clone, but, Toyota said they’d strengthen efforts to acquire design patents for its models in global markets after the Jonway UFO was built because these lookalikes really do hurt their brand image. The UFO’s sales couldn’t be stopped by Toyota because apparently, there was no patent protection on the car’s design in Europe. But you’ve gotta hand it to the Chinese; they scored 99.99 percent on this clone–the perfect original fake.
This car is really trying hard to look exactly like the Range Rover, but to an unsuspecting car customer, it may as well be. But if you’re not used to seeing the original Range Rover a lot, you may just buy a clone. Meet the Gonow GX6–why do they give these car clones such horrible names? However, this car can be the perfect alternative if you cannot afford a real Range Rover and are willing to fake it till you make it. That said, it packs a 4-cylinder Mitsubishi-sourced, 2.4-liter engine mated with a 5-speed manual gearbox, but there could also be one that’s turbodiesel mated with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The interior is reasonably trendy with red-black seats, a large touchscreen, a start button, and an infotainment system. Some of the notable Range Rover elements include the headlights, the rear bumper, the grille, and the wheel arches. But overall, it looks okay.
Okay, we’ll stop complaining about the names these Chinese knockoffs are given because it’s not going to stop anytime soon. This car tried hard to look like the Lexus RX, or the Toyota Harrier, if you like, and it's another one of those perfect clones in the market. This Chinese ‘novelty’ picked its front end from the Pontiac Torrent, and the rest of the body is a replica of the Lexus RX350, so basically, it's a hybrid of two different vehicle brands–not bad looking but still a shameless rip-off. This isn’t the first time Huanghai has cloned current car models, as they also did the same with the Kia Sorento to create the Huanghai CUV. Otherwise, if you visit China and want to drive a Lexus RX or a Harrier lookalike, go for the NCV. If you own it and don’t want people snooping around your car, just de-badge it—they won’t know it’s not the real thing.
"Hongqi" means "red flag," and to the Chinese, this is the oldest car brand also known as the presidential SUV, as it was the first car for the Chinese Communist party elite way back in 1958.
Today, a series of luxury cars have been produced by the FAW Group, the automaker that owns the Hongqi brand. It copies the Range Rover Vogue by borrowing its rear-end design but not the split tailgate feature (phew).
The size is about the same as the Range Rover, but you’ll find Chinese motifs like the chromed dragons in the grille and the wheel centers. Otherwise, it packs a twin-turbo V8 engine that delivers 530 Nm of torque and 380 hp, mated with an 8-speed auto gearbox and sprints from 0-62 in 8.1 seconds with a top speed of 137 mph.
Oh no, they didn’t... Hell yeah, they did! No matter how hard you look at this image, your eyes will keep telling you it’s a BMW X5, but it isn’t. The Chinese got you on this one. This car, with a name so massive it should be one of the entries in spelling bees, has actually been banned in Germany, and in fact, there’s a German owner of a legit BMW X5 who tore apart and razed down the Shuangshuang clone of the same–dude was uber mad! Wouldn’t you be? But the Chinese aren’t taking any of that; they just keep bringing it the harder you fight them. The car has a touch of the Toyota Land Cruiser upfront, but the rest is all BMW X5.
It doesn’t take more than one guess to know which car was cloned here, and if you didn’t already know, it’s a true copy of the Volkswagen Tiguan. The Chinese introduced this clone with so much pride after they copied everything but the color. From the exterior details with a dubious logo and wheels smaller than a Tico, this T-series SUV is part of a series of cars they copied 100 percent after their German models. It seems the Chinese are in love with SUVs, as most of the cars copied are that type. With this T-SUV, they heavily borrowed from the Volkswagen Tiguan’s front end and body, while the rear end was copied from the Touareg. Yema are the same guys who ripped off the Lamborghini Urus way before it was built. It’s that serious!
China’s Yema Auto keeps churning out new breeds of clone concepts, and this F16, which falls under the Mustang sub-brand, is part of the bandwagon. This crossover-type car looks a lot like a rebadged Audi A4 Avant, but it's based on the Austin Maestro, though they didn’t spare the design of the headlamp cluster or the tail lamp one at that.
It features an electric motor that develops 80hp from a set of lithium-ion batteries that offer a top driving range of up to 162 mph.
Initially, the car was available as a taxicab in selected areas, but the regular version was to be introduced for private buyers later on. Well, if you really wanted the Audi A4 but you couldn’t afford it, you can head over to China and get its lookalike.
Just when you thought it was over, they went ahead and dropped a Porsche Macan of their own, but they gave it a name that sounds like "zygote."
Meet the Zotye T700, the Macan’s doppelganger.
If you look at the car overall, from the front fascia to the side to the rear end, this is a total crossover car. Maybe the one thing that lets you know it isn’t the original is the logo on the bonnet hood, but everything else is borrowed straight from the German model, with the interior picked straight out of the Porsche Cayenne. The Macan doesn’t come cheap, so guys may opt for the Zotye. And by the way, they’ve even designed the Nusheng (means ‘Goddess')—a special car for the ladies, complete with pink mirrors, creamy white seats, a pink dashboard, and customized pink umbrellas to prevent wardrobe malfunctions.
Some people are hopeful that the Chinese automakers will stop copying cars one day, but we think this may take some time—or maybe they won't stop at all. These days, it’s so much easier to copy another car than decades back, what with the computer and internet age that has made copy-pasting so much easier to do. This explains why they even copied the Toyota Alphard and created their own, which they called the "Ruili DoDa V8." The name is probably the only original thing on Chinese cars, but even that doesn’t hide the fact that they shamelessly ripped off of the original creation. By the way, the "V8" in the name has nothing to do with the engine; it doesn’t have a V8—it's just a model name. Otherwise, it uses a 2.4-liter Mitsubishi engine that develops 165 base horsepower. It seems like no car is spared by these guys.
If you thought it’s only the big brands that get cloned by the Chinese, think again. They cloned even little innocent cars like the Maruti 800 or the Suzuki Alto, then named it "Jiangnan TT." In China, though, this is the cheapest car that seats four but still has some spare space to pack your groceries and enough power to cruise the highway.
It packs a 0.8-liter 3-cylinder engine that develops 36 horsepower, and a top speed of 75 mph.
Most of these are found in small cities or the countryside where the issues of status and low income are non-issues. You can get it if you want an easy-to-maintain car that can fit in any parking lot and can sneak through traffic on low fuel consumption.
Whenever you think of cloned cars, the first name to pop up is China's, followed by everyone else's. We never thought anyone would want to copy the Cadillac Escalade, but China doesn’t really care–they're passionate copycats, and they’re not about to stop soon. At least this one has a name you can pronounce and spell even while blindfolded: the "Victory S10"–maybe because they managed to create something exactly like the Escalade, so they had a eureka moment, and thus, the name was coined. But it's really a wannabe car—at least, the front shows it. But other than the stolen looks, there’s not much under the hood but a small 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops a meager 116 horsepower. And no, it doesn’t come with a Louis Vuitton knock-off bag.
Yes, even the Mercedes GL Class gets a fraternal twin–it's called the "JAC P241." The Mercedes GL is the flagship SUV from Mercedes, but the Chinese decided to viciously rip it apart and come up with their own clone SUV that borrows a lot from the GL as you can see from the headlamps and the DRLs styled similar to the front bumper of the GL but also to the Audi Q7. The shape design and the engine, as well as the hatch and the sidelines, are also based on the GL, but there’s a slight change in the shape of the lower air inlet. The rear is definitely borrowed from the Q7, with a reduced taillight shape and a rectangular bar-shaped exhaust. Who would’ve known a not-so-popular Mercedes brand would be revived through a Chinese clone?
This one's obviously trying to look like the Hyundai Santa Fe and trying really hard at that. It’s a blatant attempt to copy the styling of previous-generation Santa Fe models, the outcome being called the "Huanghai CUV." This just goes to prove how terrible Chinese car designing really is. I mean, how long did this even take to design? Two weeks? It’s pretty much the Santa Fe face grafted onto a Sorento. In fact, the Sorento knockoff is much worse, as you cannot even tell the difference. They copied everything, down to the wheels! If they did it to the Kia, the Rexton, the Land Cruiser Prado, and the Colorado, they’ll do it to Hyundai–no exceptions. Brace yourself, though, because the next clones you’re about to see may just make you L.O.L.—fingers crossed.
Zero chills! That's what this Chinese clone seems to say with such boldness. These guys have the audacity, and they feel nothing—not even for Range Rover. As far as they're concerned, they're good at what they do, and nothing or no one is stopping the cloning current.
This is the exact copy of the Range Rover Evoque, one that seems it was traced out carefully and then transferred to the computer for color and a few subtle enhancements.
Then, a name was quickly thought up by some guys in the team. We're willing to bet "Land Wind" is English for some crazy Chinese name that wouldn't have gone well with this car. So, there you have it: land and wind. All you need is a bottle of water to help you swallow the bitter truth!
This car was first revealed at the Beijing Motor Show, and immediately, it was linked to the Volkswagen Audi Q5 and the Touareg, as you can clearly see. It’s like they lifted and pasted everything as it was and just changed the name, because even the color is exactly like what you’d find in the original versions. In 2017, the latest version morphed to look less like the Touareg and more like the VW Tiguan. There’s also a sport version, the Zotye T600 Sport, which was a Touareg, and then became the Range Rover Evoque lookalike. Seems these guys want to give people who cannot afford the real thing a chance to own something close to it, but some of these clones are actually expensive in China, so it doesn't add up.
If you take out the name on the front bumper, this car looks for all the world like the real, original Rolls-Royce Phantom. From the flying lady on the bonnet to the classical radiator and contours that are so familiar to the RR, this car looks British. Only your gut will confirm to you that it’s not. The Chinese call it the "Geely GE" (Geely Excellence). Inside is pure wool carpet, subdued lighting, a wine cabinet, and massage seats–it really pulls you in. However, there are differences that aren’t so easy to spot for those who don’t have keen eyes. Geely has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a top speed of 110 mph, while the real RR has a mammoth 6.75-liter V12 engine with an artificially restricted top speed of 150 mph. The latter goes from 0-62 in just 5.7, while the Geely takes 10 seconds to hit 62 mph.
Sources: carnewschina.com, carscoops.com, wikipedia.com