Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Another Chinese clone, this time with a retro feel

Automotive news reports that Mercedes G-Wagen is the latest victim in China's clone wars. At least the Evoque is a new design - it seems strange to go back to such an old vehicle as the G-Wagen, which I remember driving as a battle-bus in Enfield North in the 1987 general election. Could it really have been so long ago? It had a turning circle comparable to that of an oil tanker.

JLR gave up on the Evoque copy as a bad job, noting that there was nothing in Chinese law which would help them. Mercedes, presumably, have less ground for complaint because the have to assume that even if there ever had been any rights in the design, they would have expired by now. Unless they could rely on copyright, of course, but that is an unreliable way to protect designs of anything, but especially motor vehicles, and particularly functional-looking ones.

This time the copyist is Beijing Automotive, which is where the story becomes complicated - they are Mercedes's local joint venture partner in China. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but it doesn't seem that Mercedes see it that way, and the problem is as much a political one as a legal one.


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