• Dec 1, 2007
Daimler's not taking the close resemblance of a Chinese minicar to a smart fortwo lightly. The German automaker has gotten a court order forbidding Martin Motors, the European distributor for China's Shuanghuan Automobile, from displaying the Shuanghuan Noble at the upcoming Bologna Auto Show. This is the second time Daimler has blocked the Noble from being displayed, having taken similar action at the Frankfurt show.

Martin Motors is calling the Noble the Bubble in Europe, since there's already another Noble. Martin contends that the Bubble is not a copy of the fortwo, citing the four seats and front engine configuration among the differentiating details. Martin Motors has also demanded in Italian courts that Daimler prove its exclusive rights to the design of the smart. If a resolution can be reached, the Bubble will go on sale for about $10,000 euros across Europe. The resemblance is striking, but copying the look isn't the same as cribbing the underlying engineering. We haven't had the opportunity to crawl over, under, or through the Bubble, so we can't comment on whether it's better or worse than the smart, but from the looks of things in the video we've posted after the jump, the Bubble is hardly a premium vehicle. Shuanghuan also sells the CEO, a midsize SUV that borrows an awful lot from the BMW X5's looks. The appearance similarities between Shuanghuan's vehicles and those of well respected competitors may not help the Chinese automaker avoid having its European sales bubble burst.

Check the jump to see a video of the Noble/Bubble in action.

More shots from Autoblog China.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      prove the design is Daimler's...easy, send it for crash testing... if it gets a one star (like that Brilliance BS(6) (pun intended)) but anything 2 star and up shows that the smart's engineering was copied, too.

      I think we got to check the paint, too...
        • 7 Years Ago
        But didn't the Brilliance BS6 get 3 stars ?

        This Bubble or Noble has a lot of similarities with the Smart. The video did not show clearly the interiors, so I cannot say if the interior is same or different, but externally, the car looks very much like a Smart, although there are some slight differences.
        • 7 Years Ago
        But the smart FourTwo has a 4 star EuroNCAP rating... When this car gets 4 stars, i'll be amazed
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Japanese developed their auto industry by copying postwar British Austins and, to a lesser extent, Italian Fiats.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The thing is a joke. You can buy a communist car, but I'll pass.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I want to see a crash test. I'm sure it will be an utter failure.
      • 7 Years Ago
      also, don't let your kids put their mouth on any of the material. They may get mercury or lead poisoning.
      • 7 Years Ago
      10k Euro is more than the actual Smart ForTwo costs. Who the hell would buy this? Let them display it, it would be good for a laugh.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Smart ForTwo starts at 9,300 Euro, at least in France.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The smart costs far more than $10,000 Euros in Europe. Nowhere on earth is it as cheap as they propose to sell it here in the USA. You cannot convert euros to dollars with car MSRPs. To a European, one euro is about what one dollar is here (divorced from exchange rates) when buying many staples. But cars are more expensive in Europe, period.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's no more ridiculous than if Rowling went after an author who photocopied her books, only changing names (Larry Plotter) and a detail here and there. I hope they win and win big.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "$10,000 euros." Oops.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If the smart starts at 9300 euros in France, it has a smaller engine, and none of the standard equipment the US model will have. Get real.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Uh, this article is about the chinese car being displayed in Europe, what does that have to do with the USA Smart ForTwo?? Get real.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's the only way to make China respect intellectual rights. Allow them to invest into the project, block the product and file for punitive damages to bankrupt the company and all those who invested in the enterprise that stills ideas of others.
      Do it a few times, and Chinese companies will start thinking twice.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Interesting. Certainly more than a passing resemblance to Smart ForTwo. A lot of the interior appears to be cribbed from mk1 Smart as well.

      Did anyone notice how much effort was put into emphasizing the fact that this car has light up gauges and directionals? If those are the differentiation points they're working with, I don't think Daimler AG has anything to worry about.
      • 7 Years Ago
      wanna bet thats not a real safety cell??

      you guys (commenters) are a joke. you rip hyundai for taking styling cues from bmw, lexus, mb, and others on the new genesis while it looks nothing like any of the models in total but the chinese blatantly copy a design whole and you defend them.

      must be a lot of commies/sympathizers on here. if the chinese want to get away with plagiarism, copy the gremlin, pay a royalty, and call it a kit car.
        • 7 Years Ago
        ahh, I dont believe I mentioned collaboration but you can read the posts and get the general sway of the conversation, see the common author's names and note the hypocrisy.

        your best counter would be there is a difference between bashing for copying and someone's right to, but no, not that good. You have to jump on the political aspect. A lot of negative (or evil in your mind) has been done in the name of democracy? A lot has been done evil in the name of Christianity, it doesnt make Christianity wrong or evil, just that some have acted wrongly in their zeal. And by the way, ours is more a republic than a democracy but that is for another blog, or class.

        It doesnt make Christianity or democracy evil.
        And be sure you KNOW the reasons behind the actions before you judge them. I doubt you have that clearance.

        And that car is as much of a ripoff as a kit car, which requires a license from the original mftr in most countries.

        Its a moot point in China because the gov't owns the companies, direct or through shells. And hey, in China, you wouldnt get to voice your disapproval with the government.
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