China's fake car industry booming with miniature EVs

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China is notorious for building cars designed to look very similar to those made by well-known manufacturers before passing them off as their own.

The practice has drawn criticism from around the world, but China's lax copyright laws allow the copycats to thrive.

Now a new industry of fakes has emerged in the form of electric cars for the elderly. They fall under a vehicle class designed to give mobility to old people, but it is being taken over by companies building small-scale rip-offs of well-known motors.

The vehicles appeal to buyers because they do not require insurance or a driving licence to use. However, they are not supposed to be driven on the road.

With police mostly ignoring the miniatures, entrepreneurial sales people have begun manufacturing products to appeal to a wider market.

One such car is the CNEV Rover, which looks exactly like a Land Rover – except much smaller. It's claimed the vehicles can cover 150km on a 12-hour charge.

The EVs appeal to the lower-middle classes who can't quite afford the real thing but want to be seen driving an expensive-looking car. They also appeal to commuters as they're small and easy to manoeuvre through China's clogged roads.

A spokeswoman for Xuying Vehicles, which sells the CNEV Rover, told The Times: "First, I think our cars are not made exactly the same as the real Land Rover; for example, the size is smaller. Second, because we are far away probably they won't come to us."

Manufacturers such as Land Rover have tried to stop Chinese fakes in the past, but the country's laws make it a difficult task to achieve.