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Four Car Companies Will Sell the Same Car in China

This electric vehicle will, all at once, be a Toyota, Honda, Chrysler and Mitsubishi.

Automotive News China calls it a gaming of the Beijing rules but either way, it’s decidedly strange that would-be competitors Toyota, Honda, Chrysler and Mitsubishi have decided to all sell the exact same model of vehicle in China – and it’s one none of them actually designed.

In an interesting case of white labeling, Chinese manufacturer Guangzhou Automobile Group will provide the electric crossover upon which each brand will affix its logo.

If it sounds strange, it probably won’t when you hear the background details. You see, China – much like the U.S. – has a few initiatives in place to help grow its electric vehicle market and reduce vehicle emissions. In fact, at their current pace – by 2020 – China’s emissions and fuel economy requirements are expected to be among the most stringent in the world.

A policy called “cap-and-trade” will assign an automaker a “new-energy vehicle score” starting in January, linked to the number of zero or low emission vehicles in their lineup. If they don’t comply, they’re forced to buy credits to fill the gap.

The problem is many auto companies aren’t quite there yet with a portfolio of enough EVs or hybrids that are road-ready, tested and compliant with China’s standards. That means those companies who still rely mostly on a traditional gasoline engine are at a disadvantage in the world’s largest auto market, but don’t want to press pause while they continue to work on development.

Enter the Guangzhou Trumpchi, available in full electric, plug-in and gasoline-electric hybrid. The model is said to be appealing to the automakers due to its proven track record in China, where its plugin hybrid version was a top selling gas-electric.

An analyst for IHS Markit, Wang Shan, said that it may not be “a money-making business” for these automakers but it’s still “better for the carmakers to sell this model than to buy credits.”

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