One of the first articles we wrote after converting Motoring Weekly from a podcast into a written form was about the LandWind X7 and how it was a clone of the first series Range Rover Evoque. That was back in December 2014 and mistakenly called a Land Wing – it was still a pre-production model then.
Now, over four years later, a Chinese Court has finally ruled that LandWind copied the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) design – not too difficult to see when they are so similar! The X7 was launched in mid 2015 and received a minor facelift two years later although the shape and many design features remained with some added VW Tiguan inspired influences! JLR launched what many assumed to be a futile legal challenge against the Jiangling Motor Corporation who own the LandWind brand. China has had a reputation of ignoring the intellectual property of overseas companies although the major players in the country have all signed licensing agreements to be able to use existing design concepts.
In this instance though, Jiangling didn’t have a licensing agreement and simply copied the design as a whole. They then proceeded to sell the X7 in competition to the Evoque at more than one third the price, which JLR rightly stated damaged their reputation. Keith Benjamin, Jaguar Land Rover’s global legal chief, said in a prepared statement that “This ruling is a clear sign of the law being implemented appropriately to protect consumers and uphold their rights so that they are not confused or misled, whilst protecting business investment in design and innovation.”
The X7 is slightly larger than the Evoque with a 2-litre engine that delivers 188hp – far less than the 240hp from the original petrol powered car, although the European diesel vehicles had a similar output to the China-only X7. At the time of the launch, western motoring journalists noted the poor build quality of the X7 with larger panel gaps and less quality interior materials. That would partly explain the lower cost of the vehicle against its rival.
What we found interesting was that both JLR and LandWind tried to file a patent for their designs and both were cancelled in 2016 by the Chinese Government because both cars were on sale before the patents were filed. At the time, the Evoque was being assembled locally by Chery in a joint venture and badged as such. That may have been the clincher in the court case – when BMW sued another Chinese manufacturer, Shuanguan, for copying their X5, they lost. Perhaps having a joint venture with a local company helps, although the Shuanguan CEO HBJ6471 was a “Heinz 57 Varieties” design from BMW, Honda and other sources, so maybe the courts felt that not enough was copied from BMW.
With regards to the future for the LandWind X7: the Beijing Court ordered that the vehicle must be discontinued and all sales stopped. In reviewing several industry web sites, it seems that the X7 and the Evoque were selling around the same number of vehicles, which would suggest that the Range Rover badge still held some cachet in the marketplace.