By on April 1, 2011

Like most manufacturers, BMW is getting ready for the pilgrimage to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Motor Show will open its doors to the press on April 19, and to the public on April 21. Some at BMW go with mixed feelings. There will be some delicate discussions between BMW brass and their Chinese joint venture partner Brilliance. The reason: At Asia’s and possibly the world’s most important auto show, Brilliance will show their A3 SUV. Germany’s Auto Bild calls it “a brazen BMW X1 rip-off, with inspirations from Audi.”

The matter becomes even more touchy as BMW plans to produce the X1 in China with a launch date in 2012. It will be built by BMW’s Chinese joint venture with Brilliance.

Asked what BMW will do about the matter, BMW spokesman Frank Strebe confirms that his company is “familiar with the matter.” His employer already is in talks with Brilliance and is “exploring the next steps.” The heads of BMW and Brilliance are expected to have a serious sit-down in Shanghai. From the sounds of it, BMW is not taking this lightly. The copy is a bit too brazen. Strebe, usually BMW’s point man for the Siebener, has been made the go to person for the Chinese copypaste.

“In the side view, the tracing was especially successful,” writes Auto Bild. “Roof lines, windows and wheel housings look like fresh off the BMW assembly lines.” The dashboard appears to be inspired by Audi. “And we won’t even mention the name,” says the German paper with reference to the Audi A3. This is also being built in China, by Audi’s joint venture with FAW.

BMW had sued Chinese maker Shuanghuan for copying their X5. A court in BMW’s hometown Munich blocked the importation of the copy. In Italy, a court in Milan decided that there was no likelihood of confusion. Hauling a  Shuanghuan in front of a judge is one thing. With your own joint venture partner, the matter is a bit different. China already is BMW’s third largest market, after Germany and the U.S.

The talks in Shanghai won’t be easy.

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15 Comments on “Brilliance’s Blatant BMW Copy Creates Chinese Crisis...”

  • avatar

    Two words come to my mind, “lame” and “shameless”.
    Most lamers that I’ve met rarely ask permission to copy or repackage as their own the intellectual work of someone else.  The one’s I’ve dealt with felt they were outright entitled steal or copy the work of others.

  • avatar

    Sorry boys, but that IS a wagon evolved.

  • avatar

    With your own joint venture partner, the matter is a bit different.


  • avatar

    Is this thing BMW-based mechanically or is it just a generic FWD-based CUV with BMW styling cues slapped on?  Judging by the proportions compared to the real Bimmer it looks like the latter.

  • avatar

    At first glance I thought “gee they do look pretty similar”.  Following that I went to Hyundai’s site and looked at a side profile of the 2011 Santa Fe:

    The Santa Fe also looks like the X1 and the A3.  Did Hyundai also rip-off BMW?  Unlikely.
    The problem is that all these CUVs look very similar, and to the untrained eye, they all look the same.  Auto exterior designers today are a lazy bunch.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, I wish they would all sue each other until the problem resolves itself.

    • 0 avatar

      For some reason the silhouette of the X1/X3 has always reminded me of the Citroen 2CV.

    • 0 avatar

      Uhm, putting aside that the Santa Fe came out a few years ahead of the X1, not really.

      The Santa Fe’s greenhouse is quite diff. from that of the X1; and one can clearly see that the Brilliance does a pretty good job of following the lines of the X1 with the diff. being that the Brilliance has more “glass.”

      As for the Santa Fe, one of the Chinese manufacturers already did a clone of it as well.

  • avatar

    Except the Santa Fe came out in 2006 – so who’s copying whom?

  • avatar

    I like the one without the big dent in the door better, but then I’m not planning to buy either one.

  • avatar

    Does this remind anyone of the GM / Chery dustup a few years ago?  The joint venture partner “just happened” to have designed a car that was so close to GM’s that some of the parts were interchangeable.

  • avatar

    These Chinese companies did all those copying because they can. Foreign companies clamors for a piece of the China business, they seem to practically willing to sell their soul for it and willingly or not, overlook these blatant copyright violations. So long as there are no repercussions, why would the Chinese companies stop what they’re doing? Suing them in Chinese court seem pointless.
    What is strange to me is why they would do that, i.e. copying the exterior design of a competitor’s car almost exactly. Are consumers fooled? I for one wouldn’t want to buy something that basically advertises loudly that I can’t afford the real thing. I can understand having a design that’s inspired by a competitor’s that were particularly good, but copying exactly? Plus the X1 hardly is the prettiest thing around, ditto for the Chevy Spark (Chery QQ) For me it makes far more sense to copy the BMW’s innards then cover it with original body style than the other way around.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you seen the native cars? For some reason the Chinese have excreble taste when it comes to their own designs. When ripping someone else off it’s already been vetted by dozens of professionals and approved.

  • avatar

    As is often the case, the proportions of the fake are off. Note the placement of the front wheels: BMW tends to place them fairly far forward.
    Bertel may have a different viewpoint – seeing more Chinese goods than I probably ever will – but it seems to be typical of most knock-off products I see. Which is why I can usually spot them from a mile away…unless the really good ones are slipping beneath my radar.

  • avatar

    Bertel, everybody,
    see link for some more pics of the A3:


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