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.
While India is still waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for volume production of their ballyhooed Nano, the cars-for-pygmies segment is in overdrive in neighboring China. It’s hard to keep them apart. When Chery launched the QQ in 2003, taking a bit more than just design cues from the Daewoo Matiz (a.k.a Chevrolet Spark) Car and Driver called the QQ a “carbon copy.” GM called their lawyers. After three years in court, the spat led to nothing, except that Chery can’t sell cars in the US under its own name due to the similarity between “Chery” and “Chevy.” In the meantime, the QQ is a runaway hit in China. Hits attract admirers. There’s a new copy in the house!