Can you pick the phonies? Itâ€™s not easy and it is the reason why Mercedes are preparing a lawsuit against Chinese car manufacturer Shuanghuan for their Smartcar â€˜ForTwoâ€™ look-alike, the Noble.
Making its European debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Noble is set to become Europeâ€™s cheapest death-trap (prices starting at just 7000 Euros or a little under $AUD12,000), provided Mercedes-Benz lawyers donâ€™t put a stop to it before then.
Designed for 4 occupants (yes Iâ€™m serious), the Managing Director of China Automobile Deutschland, Klaus SchlÃ¶ssl, had this to say,
"If I were the auto manufacturer I would not make such a big deal out of it. The cars are priced differently and are in a different class in terms of quality. There are many cars on the road today that look similar to each otherâ€
Right on Klaus!
Which makes it a good time to show you some of the other look-alikes that are currently destined for global sales if the Chinese manufacturers can get their way.
Enter the Dongfeng â€œCrazy Soldierâ€ (above) and yes again, Iâ€™m quite serious. Designed using the H1 Hummer as its main influence (no really?) the original of which was helped to fame by Californiaâ€™s Governator. This non-military version is due to be released in China early next year.
Another rip off is the Shuanghuan SCEO, due for release in Europe if they can somehow get it past Germanyâ€™s stringent ADAC crash tests. Itâ€™s a â€œbitsaâ€ that from the rear looks like a BMW X5 and the front a Toyota Prado.
The worldâ€™s population currently sits at 6.5 billion with 1.4 billion of that total figure residing in China. The Chinese population is currently increasing at the rate of 10 million per year and more Chinese people means more production.
I wouldnâ€™t be laughing at these imitation automobiles for too long, they just may be sitting in driveways around the world in years to come! For those who couldnâ€™t guess which is which, all the Chinese cars are on the left and all the original designs are on the right.