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Reports: Fiat considering legal action against Chinese automaker

Reports: Fiat considering legal action against Chinese automaker

Fiat Auto SpA is considering legal action against the Chinese automotive company Great Wall alleging that its Peri model has copied aspects of its popular Panda model, a source close to the company confirmed Tuesday.
Fiat executives say the doors on the Peri look exactly like those on the Fiat Panda, Europe's best-selling compact car, Automotive News Europe reported. A source confirmed that Fiat was considering legal action, but declined to discuss details.
But Fiat chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo made light of the case on the sidelines of an award ceremony by Italy's lobby for industrialists.
"They have good taste," Montezemolo said. "We're proud, because it means the car is a legend at an international level."
Marco De Bonis, the marketing manager in Italy for Great Wall Motors, acknowledged that there were some similarities between the Peri and the Panda, but said the specifications of the model that it will sell in Italy have not yet been made and that he expected modifications to avoid a legal confrontation.
"We don't want to have a lawsuit with Fiat," De Bonis told The Associated Press. "The model has not yet been chosen. If Fiat files a lawsuit, they will waste their time."
The Peri is to go on sale in China in the first half of 2007 and in Italy in the second half of the year, De Bonis said. It was unveiled at the Beijing auto show last month, but has not been seen in Italy yet.
Great Wall Motor entered the Italian market a year ago and just started putting cars into its distribution network of 90 salesrooms last month, De Bonis said. So far, Great Wall is selling exclusively SUVs in Italy.