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"Fairly fake," faust fasted fawningly, "Fanny."
April 13, 2007 10:57 AM   Subscribe

The World's Greatest Knock-offs! While the world waits for the dinky Smart FourFour to be released in the US, the Chinese have already made a knock-off - for $5,300! More great knock-off cars.
posted by parmanparman (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm. This seems unduely focused on knock-offs that suck in some way.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on April 13, 2007


This is just what the chinese do. I mean, pretty any product you can imagine has been cloned by the chinese pretty closely. Now that they're making cars, they're making nockoff cars.

Korean car makers have really brought car prices down, it will be interesting to see how cheap the Chinese can make cars.

Rather than run a three-cylinder gasoline or diesel engine like today's Fortwo, the Chinese example uses an electric motor that is capable of pushing the pint-size two-seater along at a top speed of 34 mph. The battery range, according to CMEC, is around 62 miles.

A $5k electric car? The range and speed suck, but for small towns this thing could be really economical, and even lower middle class people could afford it as a 'second car' for quick trips around town.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on April 13, 2007


From the first link: The Museum Plagiarius, housed in a converted railway building ...

No, no, no! I can't believe they designed their own building. Especially when there are so many proven building plans around.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:24 AM on April 13, 2007


The World's Greatest Copied Items! While the world waits for the measly Smart FourFour to be released in the US, the Chinese have already created a knock-off - for just over $5,000! More great knock-off cars.
posted by gurple at 11:25 AM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


<sues parmanparman for copyright violation>
posted by gurple at 11:25 AM on April 13, 2007


Who they callin' a Hongqi?
posted by hal9k at 11:26 AM on April 13, 2007


Btw delmoi, "nockoff" is the perfect word for this. (The "k" is so wasteful.)
posted by R. Mutt at 11:27 AM on April 13, 2007


I'm just waiting for Dinky Hocker to stop shooting smack.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:37 AM on April 13, 2007


Their collection of Waderford crystal is quite breathtaking, too.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 11:42 AM on April 13, 2007


Factcheck: the Chinese electric car is a clone of the Smart fortwo, the tiny two-door coupe everyone knows as a Smart car. It's also the only model of the Smart line that will be sold in the U.S. The Smart Forfour was something of a clone itself, as it was based on the Mitsubishi Colt. Daimler-Chrysler halted production of the Forfour in 2006.
posted by chrominance at 11:44 AM on April 13, 2007


The knock off smart car is kind of cool, as my wife was interested in them, but the 20k price turned us off to the full price ones.

I wonder, if there's ever a war with China, if they'll just fight back with a long string of cheaper versions of their enemies equipment, kind of like one of those bizarro levels in video games where you have to fight the evil version of yourself.
posted by drezdn at 11:55 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I remember reading about some of these knockoffs faring poorly in crash tests.
posted by dr_dank at 12:01 PM on April 13, 2007


I would bet money that it lacks the strong safety cell that gives the Smart car it's survivability.

Still, in a way it's a shame they copied the exterior aspects so blatantly - if they'd had an industrial designer come up with something close but different it might be an interesting vehicle in it's own right.
posted by Artw at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2007


I've never understood counterfeit car manufactures. Why, if you have the production facilities to build an externally indistinguishable replica of another manufacturers car, do you decide to build a fake Honda? or a Daewoo for god's sake?

Why not build cars that aren't readily available anymore? Give me a '69 Chexy Camero or a 427 Sheldy AC Cobra. I mean, if you can do it, why not do it right?
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Phord Phocus?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 12:23 PM on April 13, 2007


And yes, I know that there are plenty of companies that do repros of classic cars, but I'm betting they aren't selling them for $5k.
posted by quin at 12:24 PM on April 13, 2007


quin: I'd imagine for the same reason most bootleg DVDs are of the latest blockbusters over North by Northwest or somesuch.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:33 PM on April 13, 2007


Fnord Fnocus
posted by gurple at 12:50 PM on April 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


the Chinese have already made a knock-off

"Already"? The Smart is ten years old!
posted by twine42 at 12:51 PM on April 13, 2007


Fnad Fnac
posted by parmanparman at 12:51 PM on April 13, 2007


Hee! I love it when people link to former employer's pages. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 12:54 PM on April 13, 2007


Random aside - According to Wiki, the Smart car is only made in two colours: black and grey. Because all the body panels are plastic bolt on panels that you can swap over, the vehicle licensing departments can't classify them as a specific colour. So the cars are all registered as the colour of the bar that runs from the front wheels, under the door and up over the back window. All of those bars are either black or grey.
posted by twine42 at 1:07 PM on April 13, 2007


The rip-offs are pretty terrible, but it does point out that if a copy can be made for a fraction of the price of the original, perhaps there's something wrong with the original's pricing model?
posted by maxwelton at 1:20 PM on April 13, 2007


it does point out that if a copy can be made for a fraction of the price of the original, perhaps there's something wrong with the original's pricing model?

Yeah, little things like R & D, advertising ...
posted by R. Mutt at 1:35 PM on April 13, 2007


Interesting that 9 of the 13 items in the museum link were from other countires, and a 10th was from a whole bunch. The German musuem is apparnetly not shy about pointing out it's own country's knock-off makers.
posted by Potsy at 1:49 PM on April 13, 2007


Meant to say "other countries" referrs to countries other than China, which keeps getting the most mention.
posted by Potsy at 1:50 PM on April 13, 2007


Interesting that any number of those items could easily be made under contract by any number of Chinese manufacturers... The only difference between the original and the knock-off then would be the profit.
posted by Gungho at 2:03 PM on April 13, 2007


"Yeah, little things like R & D, advertising ..."

... testing to make sure it doesn't explode in a ball of flames the first time you back into a pole...
posted by drstein at 2:07 PM on April 13, 2007


I never imagined that there was a market for counterfeit urology sets.
posted by kyleg at 2:22 PM on April 13, 2007


The Smart ForTwo sells for US $20,000?

That's ridiculous! They start at roughly 163;7000 on this side of the pond -- $14K -- and we're used to getting ripped off on the price of our automotive toys; that includes VAT at 17.5%.

Maybe DamlierChrysler will get somewhere in the US when they cut the entry-level price to where it should be -- about $9999.99.
posted by cstross at 2:29 PM on April 13, 2007


cstross, where are you?
posted by parmanparman at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2007


My guess would be Edinbugh. Hello Mr. Stross!
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on April 13, 2007


Wow. Reality catches up with April Fool's. I can't find a reference to it now, but BMW ran an April Fool's ad some time in the late 90s showing how to spot a foreign knockoff. Complete with doctored photos showing how to spot the differences (blue and white regions reversed on the logo) etc. I never really imagined it would come true.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:26 PM on April 13, 2007


Homer: "I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it. And look, there's Magnetbox and Sorny."
posted by emelenjr at 3:39 PM on April 13, 2007


George, was this what you were thinking of?

I know BMW briefly ran this as an ad-campaign. (some of the videos they used are here.)
posted by quin at 3:54 PM on April 13, 2007


Nuh-uh. But thanks for the link. No, these showed BMW-branded vehicles, 7 series and the like.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:59 PM on April 13, 2007


(Knock off cars pre-date the ad, FWIW)
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on April 13, 2007


Whoa, is user cstross the GREAT Scottish science fiction author Charlie Stross? Sorry to derail, I didn't realize one of my favorite authors was on MeFi.
posted by luriete at 4:17 PM on April 13, 2007


>>perhaps there's something wrong with the original's pricing model?

Yeah, little things like R & D, advertising ...


I for one would gladly pay a bit more for a car that didn't have any advertising done for it. R&D, I suppose we need some. R&D money is perhaps only 70% wasted, while advertising is 100% worthless to society as a whole and me in particular.

But somehow I don't think that's really where the large part of the cost reduction is coming from. It's not like the knock-off Smart is much of a faithful copy. If Daimler-Chrysler really can't compete, we'll just have to let Chinese fight the Japanese over who gets to make our cars.
posted by sfenders at 4:47 PM on April 13, 2007


> The rip-offs are pretty terrible, but it does point out that if a copy can be made for a fraction of the price of the original, perhaps there's something wrong with the original's pricing model?

If it's anything like Chinese power tools or Chinese electronics, the paint is applied with a roller, the door handles have mould flashing that will cut your hands, the body's steel is potmetal as crashproof as a flannel nightgown, and the engine is a plastic housing around a two-stroke engine. But in photos it'll look like a convincing duplicate.
posted by ardgedee at 7:31 PM on April 13, 2007


Hmm... you know, this is all begining to sound a lot like post-war descriptions of Japanese products by Americans.
posted by Artw at 7:46 PM on April 13, 2007


I remember living in Vietnam and buying what looked like a kick ass Chinese made mountain bike for around $60. I bought it on first sight - it was too good to pass up. I kept breaking the chain when I peddled hard and was too heavy for the tires (at around 200lbs). I crushed the shocks.

I owned cool looking earphones and sunglasses that cost next to nothing and fell apart in a strong breeze. I got some exceptionally good mileage in my knock-off BMW...... sandles. Oh the stories.....
posted by Deep Dish at 8:20 PM on April 13, 2007


My Chinese made tea is only good for, like, one use. Then it's basically drained of all flavor.
posted by stavrogin at 8:36 PM on April 13, 2007


While the world waits for the dinky Smart FourFour to be released in the US

Er, no, it doesn't.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 PM on April 13, 2007


The rip-offs are pretty terrible, but it does point out that if a copy can be made for a fraction of the price of the original, perhaps there's something wrong with the original's pricing model?

Well, maybe, except:

I would bet money that it lacks the strong safety cell that gives the Smart car it's survivability.

Obligatory YouTube video of the Smart car crashing into a concrete barrier at 70mph. I'm curious as to whether the Chinese car could do the same; copying that sort of internal engineering strikes me as a lot harder than mimicking exterior details.
posted by chrominance at 10:14 PM on April 13, 2007


drezdn, the Smart USA website says the base model will start at under $12,000, not $20,000.
I can't believe they only get 40 mpg, though. I don't know if that's enough to justify living with such a tiny car.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:06 AM on April 14, 2007


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