A few weeks ago, car internet stopped to gawk and salivate over the shockingly interesting Ora Cat, made by Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors. The Ora Cat, or Ora Good Cat if you’re a Chinese citizen, is the first exported model from the EV-only sub-brand. Recently, Ora’s released photos of their next car in its Cat series, the New Beet- I mean, the Ora Ballet Cat.
Displayed at the 2021 Chengdu Auto show, the Ora Ballet Cat is the more apparently feminine twin to the Ora Punk Cat. Seriously, Great Wall Motors had a whole “girlfriend’s stand” at the Chengdu auto show, specifically crafted to get women interested in the Ballet Cat.
I made a post a little while back, defending the Ora Good Cat’s clearly Porsche-inspired design. “Oh, no one cares, it’s different enough, also it’s cute so who cares,” I extolled, ignoring Great Wall Motor’s historical penchant for cloning, reskinning, and copying existing cars. I’ve been interested to watch Great Wall’s progress with the Haval brand and its fancy newfangled modular LEMON platform, and thought “Wow! it must’ve moved on from the clones!” Well, its cloning has rudely reminded me with a chop to the throat via this fake electric Volkswagen Beetle.
This video has a little unnarrated Ballet Cat walkaround from the show:
While the Ora (Good) Cat was a fun cute retro pastiche, this is a clone hack job. It has the same energy as when you ask your grandma for a PlayStation for Christmas, and she shows up with a “Polystation”. Grandma didn’t know, to her, they look the same. Polystation’s got 35 games in one console, a way better deal than the $60 extra you wanted for GTA4 on top of the $400 console. Sorry grandma, a Polystation isn’t the same as a PlayStation, and the Ora Ballet Cat isn’t a Volkswagen New Beetle.
Historically, Great Wall Motors has been one of the more egregious manufacturers of Chinese market reverse engineering. Famously, Fiat sued Great Wall Motors over the Peri subcompact crossover, which was little more than cloned Fiat Panda. Great Wall Motors tried to sue back, for some reason, alleging espionage. Great Wall didn’t stop there with clones of popular Toyota and Honda compacts and subcompacts comprising most of their lineup from the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Some say that China doesn’t respect copyright law, and there will be few consequences for Great Wall Motors, but Chinese internet denizens are a little less forgiving towards Chinese domestic brands these days. Still, a quick romp through Google translated versions of the cn.auto.sina.com shows that most internet denizens are fairly positive about the Ballet Cat’s appearance.
VW may not let this slide, Inside EVs says that VW is “looking into the matter”. There have been rumblings that there may be a Beetle Inspired VW ID electric product in the pipeline. Given that China is a very important market for VW, I’m sure they’ll try and put a stop to it as best as they can.
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