China’s rather loose copyright laws have given way to another new car which seeks to ‘pay tribute’ to an existing model from the Western World - and it’s a clanger.
Tesla’s Model S has become the Youxia X, which was also inspired by KITT from TV’s Knight Rider, the Porsche Macan and the Zotye T700 could be mistaken for sisters and the Land Wind X7 looks rather similar to the Range Rover Evoque.
But Yema may have taken the prize, at least for 2016, with its new B11 model, which has more than a whiff of BMW’s i3.
It’s all there, kind of, from the contrasting black bonnet to the oversized rear-door window and upward-inflecting headlamps.
The tail lamps are also on-par with those of the Beemer, but to ensure it isn’t a direct copy (perish the thought), the B11’s rear wiper parks to the left, while the i3’s parks on the right...
However that’s where the direct visual similarities end. Not through lack of effort, we suspect, as the rest of the B11 is also trying desperately hard to emulate the i3.
As Madonna covered Don McLean’s American Pie, and All Saints barely muttered its version of Under The Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the B11 promised to be a bad idea on paper - and then delivered on that promise.
But like Madonna and All Saints with those particular song choices, we’re guessing plenty of people will be fooled and the rest simply won’t care. The B11 is almost certain to make money for Yema.
Why? Because the BMW i3 is already on sale in China, in both all-electric and range-extended models, but the price tag for up-spec models can reach the equivalent of AU$100,000 (compared with AU$71,900 for the BMW i3 94Ah with Range Extender in Australia).
That’s well beyond the reaches of the average Chinese motorist, so while pricing for the B11 is yet to be revealed, the figure is sure to be much more appealing.
Yema can’t really copy BMW’s powerplants directly, so the B11 is instead powered by a 31kW electric motor with a 51kW 1.0 litre petrol engine also fitted to the REX version.
BMW is yet to comment on the B11, but given failed attempts to tackle an SUV based heavily on the X5 and the Lafan 320 MINI lookalike in the Chinese courts, another legal challenge seems unlikely.
The German carmaker has a bit less than a year to decide, as the Yema B11 is scheduled to debut in the second half of next year.
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