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Copying Competitors Turns Out To Be Poor Business Strategy For A Chinese Carmaker

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A recent article from Want China Times highlighted the immaturity of one Chinese car manufacturer, which may not be atypical of the Chinese auto industry – and perhaps other industries in China. BYD, which is one of China’s emerging domestic auto brands, is in financial trouble as a result of various poor business decisions. One of these decisions was to copy other carmakers’ products rather than create original designs.

From a designer’s perspective, it’s interesting that the topic of copying competitors is so casually discussed as a legitimate business strategy. There is no mention of the ethical concerns of the approach – only of the financial impacts. Regardless of ethics, however, BYD’s strategy of copying competitors’ products has resulted in a dramatic loss of marketshare. As the article states, “this approach undermined the company’s research-and-development abilities, subjecting it to great pressure each time other Chinese carmakers launched new models.” Some of BYD’s domestic competitors, meanwhile, have made investments in R&D centers and hiring experienced foreign designers.

Read the full story from Want China Times.



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Copying competitors is a slippery statement as a bucket of eels. Did they copy the general elements of the car, which remind you of something, or they copy-pasted the shape directly of a competitors design from mold casts? Anyway, I do not endorse copying anything, although copying is better than doing nothing. It gives at least some kind of accumulated expertise, and gives engineers a better experience than outsourcing all the engineering abroad. And in what way Selling Toyota Matrix as a Pontiac Vibe is better than BYD chipping off some clues from their `archrivals`? The only difference is proprietary. Any Chinese company building a cheap Apple spinoffs is actually smarter than the Apple itself, as they are able to construct a copycat domestically. Is there any US based company that could fake a Sony Bravia even if the legislation gave it a go ahead?. My guess is a no. Anyway, copying is an indirect flattery that your product is successful. In the end we must measure what is more important, a well established company that might lose a share of its profits, or a new kid on the block in the heavy segment of added value industry who is too weak for a while to stand on its own feet for a maiden flight. To my mind a merc based Denza concept is better startoff, than a regular near -Detroit shutdown based on a continuous outsourcing of real engineering. Just exercising an opinion.

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