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China Finds Something Else To Steal From Western Automakers

Industry News / Comments

And this time it's actually legal.

Some Chinese carmakers have reputation for literally stealing the vehicle designs from Western automakers. Land Rover, for example, is the victim of the Land Wind X7. The latter looks awfully like the Land Rover Ranger Evoque. Land Rover tried to sue but, big surprise, the Chinese government wouldn't allow it. But the actions of certain Chinese automakers have hurt the image of the country's car industry, but now it's taking some course-correcting measures.

As Bloomberg reports, Geely Automotive, the company controlled by Volvo Group owner billionaire Li Shufu, has poached Jaguar Land Rover chief designer Wayne Burgess to head its own design studio. Why not simply hire the talent in the first place instead of stealing their designs?

Prior to working at JLR, Burgess worked at Aston Martin Lagonda. It's easy to see why Geely wanted him to come work for them. As it turns out, Geely isn't the only Chinese carmaker that's realized it's best to do hire rather than outright copy. China FAW Group Corp., the company behind the Red Flag limousine built for Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong 60 years ago, hired now former Rolls-Royce designer Giles Taylor to head up its own design team. Taylor's previous work includes the Phantom VIII and the Cullinan.

Not all Chinese automakers actually stand a chance of success outside of China, but those seeking to enter Western markets are now acting like real automakers by hiring the best of the best. Burgess' appointment, in particular, is interesting because Geely, so far, is the Chinese automaker with the most potential.

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In addition to owning Volvo and Polestar, it also recently completed the purchase of the Lotus, the iconic sports car company from the UK. Many were surprised when Geely bought Volvo from Ford several years ago, but the results today speak for themselves. Volvo is now financially healthy with excellent product. The future is looking bright for Polestar, too. Lotus, finally, has the cash it long needed in order to get new models designed and built.

At this pace, Geely is not only a Chinese automaker but is quickly become a major player on the global automotive scene.