China’s automotive sector has long had a reputation for… how shall we put this… a ‘relaxed’ attitude towards intellectual property, trademarks and copyright. A decade ago it was the head of GM going head-tohead with Chinese car company Cery, who were producing a vehicle so similar to its GM equivalent that the two cars could be dismantled, mixed up and reassembled using parts from the other vehicle – they were, effectively, identical.
There’s no question of that happening with the Songsan SS Dolphin however, which bears more than a passing resemblance to a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette and which will probably leave Corvette lovers the world over spluttering into their cornflakes in horror. There’s certainly a nod to the hallowed Corvette which inspired it, with the Dolphin making a splash at its debut at the Beijing Motor Show (where else?!).
Closer examination however reveals that the inspiration is very cursory; the dimensions are all different, despite similarities with the grille, headlights and side coving. Don’t expect any V8 under the bonnet either – this is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, with a 1.5-litre turbo-charged engine and a 16kWh battery.
Chevrolet communications manager Kevin Kelly has explained that while Songsan didn’t ask for permission to base the design on the Corvette, it was sufficiently different and didn’t use any trademarks (i.e. the Corvette name or badging) so that GM was not pursuing the company for breach of intellectual copyright. And if you fancy one of these ‘unique’ four-wheel creations, they’ll set you back 590,000 Yuan, or around $86,000!