The Dongfeng EQ6400PL Baolai Xideng station wagon.

This is the most ugly station wagon I know. Yes, as automotive historians it is not expected from us to give our private opinion about the design of a car. But the EQ6400PL, well have a look for yourself.

Dongfeng EQ600PL, photo www.9che.com.

It is our reader and fan Andy Yu who pointed out some interesting stories  to me about this car, thanks Andy!

In 1999 a mr. Shang Guangxu, general manager of the Zhuhai Bull (Gongniu) High Performance Composite Material Co. asked a patent for four cars: a light bus, the CHB6401T, the CHB6401TA and the QCJ7090.

Mr. Shang Guangxu.

Who knows a bit of the China car history of the 1990s will recognize these cars as products of the Beijing Zhonghua Automobile Industry Co. The design was credited to mr. Tang Jingsheng, his company died late 2000. The CHB6401 was made from 1994-2000, the QCJ7090 from 1995-1999.  They are all described in my book  “Made in China. Lost small cars of the 1990s.”

I don’t know about a relationship between mr. Tang and mr. Shang, but when there was one, then this will not have done well. Well, mr. Tang was not happy and he went to court in 2001. The judge declared the design patents invalid. Appeal in 2003 led to the same judgement.

In the mean time mr. Shang applied again for a patent in 2001, this time for a car named EQ6400PL. It’s complete name is Dongfeng EQ6400PL Baolai Xideng.

Dongfeng EQ6400PL prototype. Photo patent approval December 2001.

When you see the car, the conclusion must be that there is an important similarity with the Zhonghua CHB6401.

Zhonghua CHB6401TA, one of the last updated versions. Note the ridges behind the rear door.

Mr. Shang introduced the car at the Shunde Auto Show in April 2002 and the Zhuhai Auto Show in May 2002. The car was developed ‘since 1998’, had a nano composite body and was jointly made by the Dongfeng Light Passenger Car Co. (49%), hence its name and designation, and the Zhuhai Bull High Performance Composite Material Co. (51%).

At a street exhibition. Notice the strange ridges, here behind the third side window.

The sales price of the Baolai Xideng was (the version with a 4 cylinder Toyota engine) 69.800 yuan. The version with the 993cc 3-cylinder engine was cheaper, 49.800 yuan.

No Toyota! Photo www.socars.cn.

Zhuhai was the production place. Only 2546 were made.

Dongfeng Baolai Xideng, photo auto.sohu.com.
The rear site of the Beijing-made Zhonghua CHB6401. No tailgate…

And now the moment of truth, a comparison between the EQ6400PL and the CHB6401T:
sizes: EQ 4080x 1640x 1600mm; CHB 4010x 1620x 1580m
wheelbase: EQ 2440mm, CHB 2420mm
curb weight: EQ 960kg, CHB 800kg
engine: EQ 993cc 376Q 39kW or 1342cc 8A-FE (Toyota), CHB 993cc 376Q 38 kW.

My conclusion: the same concept, nearly the same technical details, the same engine… this is no coincidence… I think mr. Shang copied mr. Tang.

In 1996 I had a chance to drive a Zhonghua, brand new and not licensed, around the factory area.

Driving the Zhonghua CHB6401. Photo Jan van der Made (Madejan).
Dongfeng EQ6400PL, MIIT type approval photo.

Here some links: the MIIT approval of the EQ6400PL.
Auto Sina announcement of the EQ6400PL launch in 2002, here a second one.
Patent approvals of the Zhuhai Bull Co.
The judgement in the patent cases between Zhonghua and Zhuhai Bull.
Patent approvals of the Zhonghua Co.

 

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