Need a Rolex? Gucci Bag? Mini Cooper? Knock It Off!

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Chongqing Lifan, a Chinese car maker that is more known for its prodigious motorcycle output, launched its collector’s edition of their 320 model last week. The car is priced at 39,800 yuan ($5,830). Even China’s Gasgoo thinks that the Lifan “resembles a Mini Cooper.” But hey, BMW has motorcycle roots also.

The marketing strategy of the “collectors model” is interesting. The Lifan 320 prototype was officially launched at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show in April. At its launch, the Lifan 320 was priced at 48,800 yuan ( $7,086).

The collector’s edition of the 320 comes with many upgrades, but is lower priced “to target fashion-conscious young buyers.” Hmm. Having trouble selling the knock-off?

Maybe the brand conscious Chinese fancy a real Mini. Or not. In the first nine months of 2009, BMW sold 59,400 BMWs and only 2,934 Minis. It’s a big country. They want big cars to go along with it.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Wsn Wsn on Oct 27, 2009
    v7rmp7li : October 27th, 2009 at 2:30 am 3rd, if China vaporize, What country suffer inconvenience? None. ---------- That can be said for any nation. If the 6 billion people of the entire could have a referendum to have one country vaporized, guess what would be their choice? (Hint, it's not China.)
  • Targa Florio Targa Florio on Oct 27, 2009

    Chongqing Lifan has a history of 'borrowing' other companies' IP. Honda is currently suing Lifan for badging some of their motorcycles 'Hongda' (no joke). There's also a second lawsuit claiming that Lifan's 'SOR' logo is too close to Honda's 'SCR' logo... I'd love to be present during the court proceedings: "Your honor, this suit is completely without merritt. Our logo clearly says HONGDA while we acknowlege that the 'G' is silent, it's completely different from HONDA. Really, what's the big deal?"

  • Targa Florio Targa Florio on Oct 27, 2009

    Here's the design commentary, courtesy of Lifan Motors website. This text is verbatim, unlike some companies I do not make it a habit of claiming other people's work that isn't mine. APPERANCE DESIGN Three-color painted and exotic-color roof is the feature of LF320. The roof and body is designed as the form of horizontal parallelism, making LF320 pretty cute and embodying unconstrained personality of youth. Air-inlet grille is designed as the form of cartoon plat beehive shaping a little smile which looks naughty but honest. The peanut-shaped front lamps are 45°cross-section designed. The tail lamps are round upright designed concisely and generously. There are also lamps at the central bumper which have the function as fog and reversing lamps. LF320 is designed as a compact car with five doors for the double purpose of practicability and fashion.

  • Abcb Abcb on Oct 27, 2009

    v7rmp7li : That's one of the most pointless and heartless post ever. If china all of sudden disappears, what happens to the 1.2 billion people living there??? How does 1.2 billion refugee not inconvenience all the country? Or do you wish all 1.2 billion people living there all gone too?? As to your rest of your post, they are just bad. I am not even going to waste my time to discuss them.