Build Your Dreams Automobiles (BYD) started building cars in 2003 and has become China's sixth largest car maker by 2010. That same year, they launched the M6, which sparked controversy, coming off as a direct copy of the Toyota Previa. But in an odd twist of fate, BYD announced last year that they will work together with Toyota in producing various models for domestic sales in China.
Besides the M6, the BYD F1 has also been pointed out as a mirror image of the Toyota Aygo, whereas the BYD F3 is a Toyota Corolla clone with design cues from Honda City.
Two years ago, BYD had plans to bring the brand into the Philippines through the Yuchengo Group of Companies and the LKG Group, but we haven't heard from them since.
Unlike the sweet local candy, Yema is a commercial vehicle and bus manufacturer based in the southwest province of Sichuan, China. And in 2009, they decided to enter the passenger car market with the F99, which sits on an old MG-Rover platform. Pointing out the obvious, the F99 resembles the previous generation Subaru Forester with a 1.5L engine sourced from Toyota.
As shocking as the F99 looks, Yema actually has other models planned that emulate the likes of the Audi A4 wagon and Kia Sportage.
Huanghai Landscape V3
With a fine taste for luxury, Huanghai Auto no longer meddled with cheap compact cars and went ahead to come up with their own SUV. The Huanghai V3 made its debut at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show and is no doubt a reflection of the Lexus RX330 (also known as the Toyota Harrier). The interior also mimics the original vehicle, but with a more conservative color scheme. As for the engine options, its 2.0L and 2.4L power houses are both sourced from Mitsubishi.
Great Wall Voleex C10
No one would think that the Great Wall Voleex C10 is actually a Toyota Yaris in costume with its Wolverine-inspired grill. But when compared to the Yaris, the Voleex C10 has a simplified interior, and the gauges have been relocated to sit in front of the driver. Powered by a 1.5L engine with a six-speed CVT, it sounds better than its Toyota counterpart, at least on paper.
Launched late last year, the Voleex C10 is now available in the country through Great Wall Motor Philippines.
Distributed locally under the Laus Group, Haima is a joint venture between First Automobile Works (FAW) and Mazda. Unlike the other copycats, the Haima benefits from Mazda's existing technology, thus creating the Haima 3 around the Ford Lynx. It's powered by a 1.6L engine that churns out 120 horsepower and 150 Nm of torque, where the top-spec variant even comes with a sunroof, leather seats, and a sound system with iPod/AUX connectivity. The Haima 3 may not be as good-looking as today's latest sedans, but it can surely flaunt its Mazda DNA and its value for money.
South East Motors, or simply known as Southeast, is a joint-venture with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation that builds licensed Mitsubishi's and Chrysler's for the Chinese market. And just like Haima, they shaped the Soueast V3 based on one of their parent company's previous models, this time a seventh-generation Lancer. But with the number of facelifts the V3 has undergone, it no longer looks anything like the sedan it came from and is sold side-by-side with the current model Lancer in China.
Can these Chinese look-alikes fully integrate themselves in the cut-throat automotive industry? Or will they remain products for their niche market? Only time will tell.