Take the BYD F1 and F6, both on show here in Geneva. The F1 looks so much like a Toyota Aygo that I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Toyota’s lawyers are already drafting a letter – it even has a three-cylinder engine – while the plain F6 uses an interior based on the last generation Honda Accord, including very similar switches, equally peculiar wood and the awful cranked handbrake.
The trouble is, the Chinese car makers not copying anything desirable, and they can’t do exact replicas. Fakes only work if people believe they’re real. Chinese-made copies of Hermes bags are indistinguishable from the real thing, but Chinese copies of Toyota Aygos are not, not least because they don’t have Toyota badges on. This will not work in Europe because if Europeans want a cheap car they’ll buy a real Aygo, or a Dacia Logan, or a Chevrolet Aveo. But not a BYD F1.