Business / Auto China

Hanteng happy to learn from success

By Hao Yan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-16 14:47

When Hanteng Auto unveiled its brand image and first production models in Beijing on Monday with the slogan "Build high quality cars that meet Chinese preferences", it was a case of deja vu for some attendees.

"Hanteng is focusing on the two hottest segments - sport utility vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles," said Li Xueming, general manager of the Jiangxi province headquartered car manufacturer.

The company, established in November 2013, announced an ambitious plan to boost its annual production and sales to 500,000 units by 2020.

It plans to launch two compact SUV models in the world's largest car market this year, and another four in 2017, with two compact MPVs and a sub-compact full electric model planned for 2018.

It was the turbo-charged combustion engine powered Hanteng X7 SUV, now in production, that sparked the sense of deja vu at the ceremony as the exterior reminded reporters of the Volkswagen Tiguan. While the vehicle's display, the touch screen, central console design and the gear shift knob all mirror those found in a BMW.

But Hanteng is not shying away from such comparisons.

"To learn from the successful examples and mature cases is a must," said Zhu Zhiping, product planner for Hanteng Auto, in a speech at the news event.

Even the badge of the brand, a red inverted trapezoidal in a silver circle, recalls the Fiat logo, although it has something else in the center - a prancing horse.

In recent years, Chinese brands have filled the burgeoning SUV markets with products similar to popular ones by well-known automakers, who invest billions of dollars in designing and testing.

For example, the Zoyte T600 and Z500 echo the designs of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Honda Accord respectively. And the Land Wind X7 looks so similar to the Land Rover, that owners can pretend it is a Range Rover Evoque just by removing the badge.

"It is an approach used by the companies to push the limits of their design without immense input into the research and development," said Ling Ran, an independent automotive designer. "There's almost no legal restriction on such behavior, and no punishment will be imposed in the short-term."

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