• Jul 23rd 2008 at 8:57AM
  • 39
Fiat's Panda is the best selling minicar in Europe, and has been for four years. When China's Great Wall Motor -- Chrysler's Chinese partner -- decided to make a minicar called the GWPeri, it borrowed from the best. That is, if by "borrowed" you mean created a car that differs only from the Panda in it's headlamps and bumper details.
Fiat didn't just do a double-take when it saw the GWPeri, it sued Great Wall Motor both in Italy and in China to prevent the car from being sold in Europe and China. A court in Turin recently decided that "the [GWPeri] does not look like a different car but is a Panda with a different front end." Furthermore, if a Peri ever shows up in Europe, GW will have to pay Fiat €15,000, with every GWPeri after that incurring a €50,000 fee.

Great Wall has already said it is going to contest the European verdict. The Chinese ruling hasn't come down yet, where the GWPeri went on sale earlier this year. Thanks for the tip!

[Source: Automotive World]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I guess Mercedes could have sued Lexus for the previous LS then.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Lexus shared no part with Mercedes and was a totally different car, obviously.
      • 7 Years Ago
      China might have close to double digit economic growth in the last decade, but when it comes to technological innovation, they are nowhere near Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, India.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah, I'm sure China is going to back down and not produce it. They don't follow any copyright or IP laws and don't even try to hide it. Take a look at all the torrents that come out of that part of the World.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Crash them into each other and you'll probably be able to tell which was the copy...
      • 7 Years Ago
      As someone who is in the tech industry I can tell you that it is quite common for a Chinese company to make a cheap, low-quality, knock-off of a legit product from a good company and give it a similar sounding name. I have to guard against these products creeping into my designs by contract manufacturers and purchasing agents.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They look pretty different to me. Different rear pillar, completely different front. Doesn't seem like a complete rip-off anyway. There's only so much you can do with a compact car like that.
        • 7 Years Ago
        its things like this this, and many other global political decisions made by the country of china (continued support of Sudanese govt - "we'll buy your oil, as long as you continue to buy our weapons...who care about darfur") that make me not even afraid to say:

        I HATE CHINA.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Except the Chinese Interior looks much better.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah but look up that car and see the inside, it is a direct copy of the entire Panda interior, right down to even the gauge set up. China is unbelievable in this area. I can't see how they want to be taken seriously by copying cars this blatantly.
      • 7 Years Ago

      I can understand your sensitivity. I'm an Indian American and stereotypes can affect me too. But the attacks on Chinese business and communist government practices do not reflect on Chinese people as individuals. What we have is a cultural mismatch and now that the business world is global, certain rules have to be agreed to. Unfortunately, what's OK with Chinese business/government doesn't fly in most of the rest of the world. In this case, it looks like drawings for tooling were stolen because the interior dimensions look exactly the same. That can't be proven, but this copy is so similar that it could damage Fiat's reputation and image if Great Wall's GWPeri has reliability issues.

      In the case of the Japanese, the Lexus/Mercedes or Accord/BMW 5 Series example shows that they copy general design themes, but not to the point that dimensions are shared and interiors are shared. I'm sure they used their own tooling.

      But us Americans are guilty of much of what the Chinese do that we complain about. We want the cheapest stuff period. We seem not to care if the Chinese companies use pollution control or harsh labor practices. We buy their goods anyway. And we exploit the Chinese market to make money off of their 1 billion people regardless of what their government does otherwise. But the Chinese government is smart. By tying their currency to our American dollar, they assure themselves of a market for cheap goods as we go deeper into debt funded by them and other countries. This depresses our currency and we essentially put ourselves up for sale at discount prices on the global market. Already companies from other countries are buying our companies like Budweiser and our landmarks like the Chrysler building.

      Building on what Wobbly_ears said, I have to give props to my fellow Indians for trying to succeed by innovating on their own and buying companies to grow.
      • 7 Years Ago
      China says: All Your Base Are Belong to Us!

      • 7 Years Ago
      What is the difference between a Opel Corsa, Nissan Tida, Peageot 206, Mazda2. If all these cars came from china, would they sue, becasu already they look alike. Its like the judges are women who think all cars look the same. These big car companies are just cross that they will loose money to us, who really should have the right to buy what we want with our hard earned money.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Same engine, interior, and amount of cupholders too?
      • 7 Years Ago
      lol...some chinese company had copied the Indian bajaj Pulsar motorbike too...and then there was this corolla look-alike that came up in some auto-show. So this is not new.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Obviously this isn't the first time that we've seen this type of "business model" and it makes me wonder how common this is across all industries in China. What allows this to be seen as a profitable and honest process? Is it a lack of government and industry regulation? Is it more difficult for businesses to sue one another over patents and copyrights in said countries? Is it because consumers want products that can't or won't be allowed to be imported and so local businesses rip off designs to bring said products to the local market? Why would anyone think that this works on a global scale?
        • 7 Years Ago
        > it makes me wonder how common this is across all industries in China.

        Very common. Remember, China is still a "communist" country where the means of making money(Such as Intellectual Property) is shared by everyone.

        > What allows this to be seen as a profitable and honest process?

        China never had a concept of "Intellectual Property" for the past 4000 years. This is a very foreign and recent concept they still do not fully comprehend. For example, the word "Democracy" in Chinese language is a loan word from Japanese and is less than 100 years old, and Chinese understanding of "Democracy" is very different from ours.

        > Is it more difficult for businesses to sue one another over patents and copyrights in said countries?

        Chinese don't have concept of "Intellectual Property", so how can you sue another for the violation of it.

        > Why would anyone think that this works on a global scale?

        Most of these Chinese business executives never set a foot outside of China.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Exactly. As there is no concept of "intellectual property rights" in the communist Chinese government, these sorts of things are allowed to be made.
        Good for Fiat! At least they are actually doing something more than verbally condemning them.
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