Sunday, April 22, 2007

China's domestic car makers - heading the wrong way?

Here's another in the Mandarin's continuing series of letters to the editors of the Wall Street Journal that they won't print:

The Mandarin couldn't help laughing when he saw the articles in the March 20, 2007 edition of the Wall Street Journal on Roewe and Wuling, two up-and-coming Chinese car makers who are challenging the US and European majors in the Chinese home market.

In an era where no piece of intellectual property seems safe in China, trademarks are no exception. "Wuling" 五菱means "five diamonds" (well, literally "five water chestnuts," but you get the idea) and the name and logo are obvious rip-offs of Mitsubishi 三菱, which means "three diamonds" (san ling in Mandarin). If three diamonds are good, then five diamonds must be better.

And Roewe 荣威 is not just an obvious imitation of "Rover," it is also another of those notorious Chinese malapropisms: the two Chinese characters used to write Roewe are pronounced in Mandarin as rong wei. Another target for Beijing's pre-Olympic language police?

Of course, on the off chance that the WSJ actually does print the Mandarin's letter, then his cover will be even flimsier. Unless his loyal reader(s) can keep a secret....

1 comment:

opit said...

Actually the '5 diamonds' arrangement is reminiscent of a wing logo. The SAIC WULING - more like an incomprehensible 'Elmer Fuddism'.