Or, maybe not...
China. The country whose auto industry has built a reputation for shamelessly stealing the designs of other automakers safe in the knowledge that the Chinese government provides protection. Lovely world, ain’t it? But there are some Chinese supercar companies that are, to their credit, attempting to be creative with designs of their own (mostly). Yes, the supercar concepts we’ve seen over the past few years definitely have some design elements from more established firms, but things are progressing in the right direction for brands like TechRules, Windbooster (direct translations can sound kind of funky), and BAIC. None of these Chinese-built and designed supercars have made their way to American shores, let alone to Europe, but it’s really only a matter of time until at least one or two of them leave their homeland.
Question is, will the world accept them? Remember, the Japanese built a supercar back in 1990 and it changed everything. That car was the Acura NSX. It forced Ferrari and Lamborghini to improve many things, among them ditching interiors with the quality level of cardboard. We’ve gone through our database of Chinese-made supercars and have picked out the ones with the greatest chance of success, be it in China or elsewhere.
Believe it or not, BAIC was founded way back in 1958 and today is one of China’s largest automakers. Some call it the General Motors of China. Because of its size and wealth, it was really only a matter of time until it attempted a supercar.
The Arcfox-7 had its global premiere at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show and has since been confirmed for production. It was co-developed with Spain’s Campos Racing team. Powered by three electric motors with a combined total of 603 hp, the Arcfox-7 weighs 3,870 pounds, sprints to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. It also has a range of 186 miles per charge, which is far below what a Tesla can do. Its scissor doors definitely come straight out of Italy and its overall shape is, uh, a bit German. We can’t help but see some BMW i8 in there. One of its cool and unique features is a fingerprint scanner to start the engine.
Okay, yes, the Techrules TREV does look awfully similar to a McLaren P1 from a few angles, but this Chinese supercar is still quite unique. It utilizes a 1,030-hp electric-turbine powertrain with six electric motors that help it reach a top speed of 217 mph. By the way, TREV stands for Turbine-Recharged Electric Vehicle.
The last time a turbine powered a supercar that nearly made production was the Jaguar C-X75. But Techrules opted to use the turbine differently. In this case, it uses a micro turbine to directly drive a generator that produces electricity to power the electric motors that turn the wheels. Sound complicated? It is, but the engineering works. Combined with a 20 kWh lithium-magnesium-oxide battery pack with a 40-minute recharge time, it sure sounds like Techrules is serious about production.
Does the Icona Vulcano look like a Ferrari F12 with an awkward nose job? You could say so, yes. Shanghai-based Icona opened its doors in 2010 and the first Icona Vulcano concept premiered in 2013. Designed by Italians and other hired guns from the mainstream auto industry, one could argue the Vulcano isn’t fully Chinese. Then again, it was developed thanks to Chinese money. Built on an aluminum chassis and carbon body panels, a pair of hybrid power options were made: a 6.0-liter V12 with 790 hp combined with a 160 hp electric motor, and a V6 version linked to two electric motors. The latter enables the coupe to blast from 0 to 124 mph in only 8.9 seconds. The V12 version does the same deed in 9.2 seconds. In 2016, the Vulcano Titanium was revealed at Monterey Car Week in California. As the name implies, its body is made mostly of titanium and some carbon fiber. Icona claims the titanium body required 1,000 hours to complete and it carries a price tag of $10 million in China.
Yes, the ‘!’ is part of the name. It probably makes more sense in Chinese. Anyway, the Qiantu K50 Event! debuted at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show and like others in this list, it features an electric motor. Two of them, to be precise, and they produce a combined total of 402 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. A year after this debut, the production version arrived and, very wisely, dropped the ‘Event!’ from its name and kept the rest. The company claims the production coupe (a roadster also debuted) has a top speed of 124 mph and a 0-62 time of 4.6 seconds. The interior also looks like a nice place to be thanks to, for example, its large tablet-like touchscreen infotainment system. There’s also a solar panel on the roof. Qiantu Motor is building a new factory that can churn out 50,000 cars annually. No word yet if there are plans to sell the K50 outside of China.
With a name like ‘Windbooster’ it’s gotta be fast, right? With a total of 544 hp and 737 lb-ft of torque, the Windbooster Titan is a supercar powered by a pair of electric motors installed at each of the rear wheels. A 72 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powers those motors. Is it fast? Top speed is a claimed 161 mph and 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. Not amazing figures but respectable. Charging time, however, is not so impressive by today’s standards. It will require seven hours on a 220V and 1.5 hours on a fast charger. Because its battery pack is situated just ahead of the rear wheels, the Titan is considered to have a mid-engine layout. Its chassis is based around a tubular frame made of steel and titanium. The Titan is built by the Windbooster Car Corporation, which is owned by performance and aftermarket supplier Cammus. Although its design is nothing groundbreaking, the Windbooster Titan does look fairly production ready. We’ll believe it when see it.
We just had to include the CH Auto Aculein because it’s considered to be China’s first-ever supercar. It’s a Chinese classic, if there’s ever to be one. The Aculein is the copycat supercar where all other Chinese carmakers draw their inspiration. Powered by a BMW 6 Series-sourced 4.8-liter V8 with 367 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque, the Aculein looks like a cheap version of the Ferrari 599. We also see some Maserati and a touch of Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Zero to 62 mph happens in 5.2 seconds and top speed was clocked at 167 mph.
Those figures were far more decent when the Aculein was unveiled in 2010. Mass production, obviously, never happened but we wouldn’t be surprised to learn if a few examples were made and still exist. Now, if you think the Aculein shamelessly ripped off the design from other great supercars, just wait for what’s next.
Yes, really. A Chinese supercar company had the guts to name itself Diablo Auto. Its two founders studied engineering in Europe and when they returned to China the pair set off to build a copycat Lamborghini Diablo. Even its logo is a blatant rip off. Consider the entire car to be a replica and not its own unique thing. And unlike the real Diablo, this fake Chinese one isn’t powered by a V12, but rather a twin-turbo V8 sourced from Toyota. Top speed is said to be close to 186 mph. It doesn’t appear Lamborghini sued Diablo Auto for obvious reasons, probably because the entire project, despite the good copycat job, was such a joke to begin with. We know Diablo Auto stands no chance of making it outside of China, but we figured it was still worth showcasing for the laughs alone.