For better or for worse, Tesla’s presence in China has resulted in quite a bit of what you might call “technology transfer.” One example of this the emergence of “Tesla clones”—vehicles that are “inspired” by Tesla’s designs, as Electrek’s Fred Lambert puts it.
Chinese automaker Xpeng, which has begun selling EVs in Europe, copied Tesla’s vehicle user interface, and apparently even some parts of its web site at one point. The US automaker is involved in a lawsuit against a former employee whom it has accused of stealing information about its Autopilot system.
Now state-owned automaker Changan Automobile has launched a new EV that bears more than a passing resemblance to Tesla’s Model 3—and is selling at a fraction of the price.
Changan’s new Shenlan SL03 is a small electric sedan. Its dimensions are almost identical to those of Model 3, and the front end looks very familiar indeed. Even the badge at the front is suspiciously similar to a certain cat’s-nose emblem. The Shenlan also happens to feature a minimalist interior with a large horizontal center display, and a user interface that will present few surprises to a Tesla driver.
Shenlan SL03 (C385) by Changan Shenlan (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The base Shenlan SL03 has a range of 320 miles (based on the Chinese testing standard), and an optional larger battery pack offers 438 miles. The new EV starts at 183,900 yuan (about $26,000), which some might consider a bargain compared to the Tesla Model 3, which starts at 279,900 yuan ($40,000) in China.
Electronics giant Huawei and battery cell maker CATL, which also happens to be a supplier to Tesla, participated in the development of the Shenlan SL03.
Changan claims to have over 15,000 reservations for the Shenlan, and hopes to begin deliveries by the end of the year.