Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth says carmakers are powerless when it comes to Chinese brands ripping off their design work.
Mr Speth's comments come after a Chinese court decision to allow Land Wind to continue selling the X7 SUV, despite JLR’s protests that its design was too similar to the Range Rover Evoque (pictured above, you be the judge).
Speaking with Autocar India, Mr Speth said Chinese carmakers could easily design and build their own cars but were taking the easy option by copying existing designs.
“China, from my point of view, has enough creativity and engineering power to do something on its own and doesn’t have to fall back to the time when copying was of interest,” Mr Speth said.
“I hope the Chinese customer at the end of the day sees the difference and selects the real product and not a copied one. We hope they generate a self-regulation process so that they can get rid of this kind of copy/paste way of working.”
Self-regulation may be the only solution, as the X7 isn’t the first model to be brought before China’s courts by disgruntled carmakers which also operate in China.
The Land Wind X6 was criticised as a copy of the Frontera SUV, and the Lifan 320 (MINI Cooper), Chery QQ (Daewoo Matiz - which brought legal action from GM) and the Geely GE (Rolls Royce Phantom) have also raised eyebrows for their ‘similar’ designs.
Self-regulation may also solve one of JLR’s other problems with the X7, which sells for around AU$50,000 less than the Evoque in the Chinese market.
JLR hasn’t given up on the X7 either, with the company reportedly researching legal avenues to launch an appeal but refusing to comment on the matter for now.
Mr Speth said it was “disappointing” that Chinese authorities allowed Land Wind to continue selling the X7, adding that the ‘similar’ competitor was disrupting Land Rover’s plans to expand its Chinese operations with joint venture partner Chery.
To further complicate matters, an earlier report from Reuters said Land Rover was under investigation by Chinese authorities for possible anti-competitive behaviour, and these matters are believed to be ongoing.
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