The state-owned Chinese automotive manufacturer JAC (Jianghuai Automobile Co.) is looking to produce a pickup truck that looks similar (some are saying too similar) in many ways to Ford’s F-150.
JAC is also reported to be on track to debutting the new product, called the 4R3, at the Bejing Auto Exhibition near the end of April. From the grainy spy photos that have shown up all over the internet of an early production unit, the frontend bares a strong resemblance to the current full-size F-150, especially in the grille and headlight shapes and designs.
Although no chassis specifications are available, early reports are the JAC 4R3 will house a small four-cylinder diesel under the hood which suggests that the vehicle may not be anywhere near the size of a full-size pickup truck. For those who keep track of such things, this “borrowing” of certain design cues for a “new” vehicle is not uncommon in the Chinese marketplace; in fact, the guys at cargurus.com note seeing quite a few “twins” at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show and even suggest that our own free market economy may be to blame.
“Truth be told, Chinese copies of popular cars and trucks are nothing new…The bigger question is this: Are Americans to blame for the ripoffs? In our never-ending quest to save money, we all continue to support Chinese manufacturing every time we visit a store. Products made in China are nearly unavoidable. Even ‘American’ products, such as many Ford vehicles, are assembled with parts made in the People’s Republic. According to Reuters, only now are lawmakers beginning to press the Obama administration to restrict imports of Chinese-made auto parts, which have surged almost 900 percent since 2001 and contributed to the loss of about 400,000 domestic jobs.”
According to Ford spokesman, Mike Levine, Ford is aware of the JAC vehicle and they are investigating. “We’re just trying to get an idea of what’s going on with the vehicle and haven’t decided what our next steps might be.”
State-owned JAC is based in Hefei, in east China’s Anhui province. Last year, the company sold 425,505 passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, according to LMC Automotive.