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Chinese copycat showdown

2008-07-29 11:08
GWM, Peri

At transcontinental courtroom battle is playing out in Europe and Asia regarding Great Wall's "cloning" the Fiat Panda for its new Peri hatchback.

In the latest news, Fiat it considering its options after a Chinese court rejected Fiat's claim that Great Wall Motors had copied its Panda hatchback.

Automotive News reports that the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court was able to establish differenced between the designs of the Panda and Peri. Fiat was ordered to pay the costs. The Italian manufacturer has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

"Too similar"

The debacle started unfolding two weeks ago when a Turin court had ruled that Great Wall would not be allowed to sell its new hatchback in Europe because it is "too similar the Fiat Panda".

Fiat sued the rival manufacturer in both Italy and China, aiming to keep the car out of European Union countries. The court ruled that Great Wall would be subject to fines for every Peri imported in Europe.

Following the latest ruling, Great Wall said it did not expect the Italian court's ruling for the European Union to have a substantial impact on its global operations.The Chinese manufacturer was preparing documents for an appeal against the Turin court's findings.

Local impact

Locally, Fiat Auto SA's representative declined to comment, while Great Wall Motors said it was "business at usual".

The Peri will be launched on the South African market by the end of 2008. At the recent Durban Motor Show, a GWM executive stated the hatchback will be extremely well equipped for its segment and prices should start at about R90 000.

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