If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then China must be the world’s largest congregation of unrepentant sycophants. According to an old Chinese custom, deep admiration is shown through rapid replication. Tesla’s Model S has seen flagging sales in recent times, but it is still much revered. A small Chinese car company, Aoxin New Energy, is giving Tesla the mandatory face, by admiring it, China style.
Tycho de Feijter has chronicled the ups and downs of Tesla in China in Carnewschina, and this is where he documents an egregious act of Tesla flattery. Aoxin makes a spitting image of Tesla’s Model S, from the grille that looks like a perplexed carp, to the roofline, the (slightly smaller) touch screen, and on to the badge.
The Aoxin badge still looks a bit complicated as car logos go. Give the company a little time, and a CI agency will simplify the thing, lose the laurels, and arrive at a much cleaner … ooops.
Should Tesla want to assert its rights vis-à-vis the flatterer, it may have a bit of a hard time. 1:1 copies of trademarks, 100% rip-offs of patents can be taken to court, where they often linger for years. Mere inspirations usually are hard to challenge. A lawyer worth more than 5 kuai most likely would argue: “Patents, didn’t Tesla just give them away? My client duly followed Mr. Musk’s exhortations to make more electric cars, and why, then, is the laowei wasting the court’s precious time?” In any case, Aoxin was a subsidiary of government-owned Dongfeng Motors, we learn from Carnewschina, later, it was sold to the Municipal Government on Yancheng City in Jiangsu Province, and the court of Yancheng would be the likely venue for a lawsuit, good luck with that.
For more pictures, and the technical details of the flattery, please go to Carnewschina.