Daimler blocks debut of Chinese smart clone

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.]

The video meant to be presented here is no longer available. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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