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GWM denies copying Fiat designs

Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor Co. Ltd. has denied its new subcompact car the Peri is copied from FIAT designs, adding that it doesn't fear a lawsuit, the Oriental Morning Post reported on Friday.

The Italian auto giant Fiat is considering legal action against the Hebei-based company, alleging the Peri, which debuted in the Beijing Auto Show in November, resembles the Fiat Panda.

"We never copy car designs from other automakers. It took two years for our own design team to develop the Peri", Shang Yugui, head of Great Wall Motor's publicity department, was quoted as saying.

Shang says his company has its own moulds and technical patents for its products.

The report cited an anonymous analyst saying Fiat is worried because Great Wall Motor is expected to launch the Peri in European markets soon after the Peri is launched in China in the first half of 2007.

Great Wall Motor is not the first Chinese automaker to be involved in a copyright dispute with foreign companies.

In 2003, General Motors Corp. sued the Anhui-based Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. over its subcompact QQ which is strikingly similar to GM's Spark. The two companies settled out of court.

Toyota Motor Corp. also accused the Zhejiang-based Geely Group for copying the Japanese company's logo. Toyota lost its suit against Geely.

Honda Motor Co. complained at last month's auto show that Shenyang Polarsun Automobile Co. Ltd. showcased a sport-utility vehicle with the front bumper resembling that of the Honda CR-V. Honda has yet taken legal action.

The privately-owned Great Wall Motor Co., Ltd., originally a SUV and pick-up producer, unveiled three new models in November; the Peri, Florid and Coolbear - in the hope of grabbing a slice of the compact car market.

The company is one of the few Chinese automakers that develops and produces its own models rather than manufacturing foreign brands under licence.

Source: Xinhua
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