China’s motor industry has become well known in the west for its lax laws on design which allow domestic manufacturers to produce hilariously blatant copycat models like the Range Rover Evoque-mimicking Land Wind X7.

But this year’s Shanghai motor show, while not completely lacking in copycats, has shown that China’s motor industry is contributing far more to the world than cheap knock offs. Shanghai has demonstrated that China is actually a leader in electric cars.

Openly motivated by a serious smog problem (the outside air in Shanghai can be as heavy and dusty as the London Underground’s) and tightening government legislation, Chinese manufacturers, many of whom you won’t have heard of, are producing hybrid and fully electric models left right and centre, so much so that the number on show in Shanghai far surpasses that seen at recent European events.

History of the Chinese copycat car: picture gallery

SAIC Motors is the country’s biggest carmaker, and its MG brand E-Motion concept is a halo product of its EV know-how. But we can also look to its other ex-British brand, Reowe (which stemmed from the ashes of Rover), and see hybrid powertrains are offered with almost every model and several full-EV versions are being brought to market.

Ever heard of Dynavolt Tech? Me neither, but the brand is here in Shanghai demonstrating its electric wireless charging technology that links to a solar charger. The system seems, at least in principle, to be a Chinese equivalent to Tesla’s solar system, offering zero-emission transport in its purest form.

Qiantu is another name you’ve probably never come across, yet here it is in Shanghai demonstrating a striking electric convertible supercar with a name I won’t even try to convert to English. It uses a twin-motor setup to offer Tesla Model S-aping acceleration and is production ready. Apparently, it could one day come to Britain.

My favourite electric model of Shanghai, however, is the Hanteng EV, purely because it also happens to be a Jaguar F-Pace copycat. So while there’s no doubting China’s industry is a big player when it comes to electric cars, it’s obviously not quite done with ripping off European designs just yet.

Read about the latest news from the Shanghai motor show here