Now that the Mercedes G-Wagen has joined the fateful ranks of European cars to be ripped off by Chinese manufacturers, we can't help wondering whether someone in China is planning to pull off the same trick with the Land Rover Defender. After all, Chinese vehicle manufacturers aren’t faced with the same safety and emissions regulations that are forcing the Defender out of production in Britain.
The G-Wagen is probably the closest thing we have in Europe to the boxy ruggedness of the Land Rover Defender. Its oriental doppelganger, the catchily-titled BAIC BJ80C, features slab sides a la Mercedes, big dollops of hideousness at the front, and rather ominously (cue thunderclap…) a 110in wheelbase.
Prime Minister David Cameron has been in the Midlands this week, talking against the cloning of European car designs in China. It follows the gloomy admission by Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Dr Ralf Speth that there’s nothing he can do to stop Chinese company Landwind from making their infamous X7 – the blatant rip-off of the Range Rover Evoque – because copyright laws aren’t as tight in China as they are in the West: what’s protectable in Europe, isn’t in China.
Any Chinese market Defender-lookalike would almost certainly be automatic only, with a cheaper price tag, more interior equipment, at lower cost, with fewer leaks (hang on a minute…). Expect standard equipment to include a colourful manual informing you of your newfound ability to ‘be experiencing of the joyous nature essences’, rather than the low range transfer box and bulletproof mechanicals that’ll actually enable you to do that.
Presumably there’ll be a special run of ‘Soho Village’ Editions...
We can wait.