China's cheapest car is a Maruti A-Star clone from Zotye

09/05/2012 - 05:47 | ,   | Manish O

Zotye Auto recently launched what would be the cheapest car to go on sale in China today. When Tata took a similar initiative for India, it found itself filing some 31 design and 37 technology patents with the Nano. But "Zotye International Automobile Trading Co., Ltd" couldn't have cared less about patents.

Zotye Z100 FRONTZotye Z100 dashboard

The 'Zotye Z100' is an unlicensed replica of our Maruti A-Star or the Suzuki Alto as it is known elsewhere. This was something we were already expecting, but not at this price point.

Seems like 90% of the development cost could have just been on the following items:

  • 1 Suzuki Alto (A-Star)
  • 1 screw-driver set
  • 1 measuring tape

No wonder they have been able to price it at 23.8-25.8K Yuan (2-2.2 lakh rupees), or at half the price of the original Chang'an Suzuki Alto that is sold in China.

If you think 'Zotye' sounds familiar, you're right. That's the same company that supplies Premier with the Rio's CKD kits, which in turn is a modified Daihatsu Terios, Zotye acquired the license to produce.

The Fiat 'Multipla' has become the Zotye 'Multiplan'. The next set of cars they have targeted to resell are previous gen Fiats (Palio, Doblo, Strada, Siena) and Hyundai Veracruz. But many of them mentioned here are at least with the made with original tooling and manufacturing rights. Seemed like a much better direction to head in, until they launched the Z100.

It does trouble me to know that the Chinese are setting out to land on the moon very soon. Hope they don't make a cheap copy of that too!

[Source: and]

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