Tesla Motors has been trying to establish a beachhead in China, but conditions in the world’s largest new-car market haven’t been favorable for the Silicon Valley carmaker. Between high import duties, software issues, and a lack of charging stations, Tesla hasn’t had as easy a time in China as elsewhere.
So this news story probably isn’t what Elon Musk and company want to see.
Chinese carmakers have a reputation for producing knockoffs of existing designs, and now it appears it’s the turn of the Tesla Model S to be copied. Behold the Youxia X, an electric car that looks suspiciously similar to the Tesla. It was unveiled over the weekend, according to Car News China.
It’s not an exact copy (those headlights look like they were stolen from Maserati), but with its prominent black “grille,” fender badges, and overall shape, the Youxia X doesn’t look like it could be anything other than a Model S facsimile.
One thing the Youxia X has that the Model S doesn’t, though, is a programmable display in the grille, which can present everything from the sliding red light from KITT to emoji.
The plagiarism continues with the interior. The Youxia X copies the Model S’s signature feature, an enormous central touchscreen that takes the place of nearly all analog controls. The system is called KITT (continuing the Knight Rider theme), and allows the driver to program fake engine noises if silent driving gets too boring.
While the Youxia X may look like a Model S, it can’t match the Tesla’s performance. The Chinese car can only muster 360 horsepower, enough for 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. That’s admittedly more than the base Model S 70, which has 315 hp, but that car can reach 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. And remember that the 70 is the least powerful Model S, as well.
Youxia does at least claim to come close to Tesla when it comes to range. The X will reportedly be offered with 40, 65, and 85-kilowatt-hour battery packs, compared to the Model S’ 70, 85, and 90-kWh packs. The Chinese company claims a maximum range of 285 miles, while the longest-range Model S can go 270 miles on a charge.
The Chinese car will also be cheap. It will start at an estimated $32,000, with range-topping models going for $48,000. That’s much less than the $70,000 base price of a Model S, but don’t expect this ripoff to be available in the U.S. anytime soon.