|The CMEC smart EV knock-off.|
Sueddeutsche.de reports that little-known Chinese carmaker CMEC has announced a two-seater all-electric vehicle with a 100km (62 mile) range, designed for export to the European market. No other details are given.
Trouble is, it looks virtually identical to the current smart fortwo. Indeed, the manufacturer even brazenly calls it the “Electric City Smart.”
Another little-known Chinese carmaker, Shunghuan, has also announced a model called the S6 that bears a strong resemblance to the smart fortwo, expected to sell in China for the equivalent of €2,800-5,000 depending on options. The article does not indicate the type of drivetrain used.
These unauthorized copies do not claim to match the original in terms of technology or quality. For status-seeking consumers in the fast-emerging Chinese middle class, the point is that the vehicles look like the real deal and, that they can actually afford them.
DaimlerChrysler has indicated it will sue for all copyright and trademark infringements. However, the concept that brand identity constitutes intellectual property that needs to be protected by law is new to China. BMW, VW, Audi and Honda are cites as examples of other Western companies struggling to safeguard their own IP.