A legal Mercedes copy?
The collaboration between Daimler and BAIC, first linked in as early as 2003, is based on a strategic framework agreement concluded in mid-2011, and the German luxury car manufacturer announced at the end of 2012 that the company would support the Chinese state-owned car maker offering entire vehicle platforms from which to build cars. The Chinese car manufacturer jumped at the opportunity: their BJ80 SUV off-roader introduced at the Beijing Auto China expo is a G-class with a facelift and they don't even deny it.
The BJ-80 has little chance of becoming a cheap Chinese Mercedes, though, as it won't be much cheaper than the German original if the 4-litre V8 and the white leather upholstery of the car on display is anything to go by. Compared to the German G-class, a real cult object by now, the Chinese version looks a bit cheap, but that's beside the point. The point is that the car is only a by-product.
The BJ-80 is intended to replace the old Beijing military off-roader, the UAZ copycat BJ-212 and its spin-offs, so the civilian version will merely be a by-product, much like the original was a by-product at Mercedes. The G-class has become a rather popular military vehicle made under licence in many places, so it's understandable that the People's Liberation Army will be thrilled to receive a fleet of its homemade copy. Although these vehicles will probably not be used by the low ranking officials who drive the more simple BJ-70, a mostly Chinese construction, the armed corps of the country with the largest population in the world will probably still make use of hundreds of thousands Chinese G-class copies.