It didn’t take long for the latest Ford F-150 to receive a Chinese clone, but this could be the one case where the name of the copycat truck is cooler-sounding than the original. Just take a couple of minutes and let the name Foton Big General wash over you.
We recall sketching trucks in elementary school in the margins of our books, but even then the name Big General would have felt like “too much.” In this instance let’s give credit where credit is due and applaud Foton on unrestrained creativity when it comes to model name selection.
On a related note, it’s refreshing to see a pickup truck from China whose model name does sound like the name of a laserjet printer, something like XGM44002020L. It’s also refreshing to see an entirely foreign pickup truck clearly designed in the American tradition. This is a factor that’s difficult to appreciate without having seen trucks from many different parts of the world, as pickup trucks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico tend to be very different from offerings even in Australia.
But is the Big General all that big?
The truck’s styling could be confused for an American truck were it not for its actual size, which is said to be closer to the Ford Ranger than the Ford F-150. So the F-150-inspired front fascia is a full size smaller and is attached to what we’d call a midsize truck. And its engines are equally suited for foreign markets: a 2.5-liter turbodiesel is on the menu alongside a 2.0-liter gas engine. But then again, its ability to tow a horse trailer is probably not going to be trumpeted in manufacturer brochures.
So it’s really a Foton Brigadier General at most.
Speaking of Australia, the truck could end up being sold Down Under, which would be one of those rare situations when a western marque and its Chinese clone are offered in the same consumer market. Of course, this isn’t strictly a clone because the truck is really about the size of a Ford Ranger, so it may not be entirely correct to apply that label.
This is more of an inexpensive Halloween costume, the kind mostly consisting of a half-mask with a rubber band around the back side of the head, and a stretchy shirt and pants that your parents bought you for $11.99 and told you that you looked just like the real Iron Man, even though you were four feet tall at the time and you knew it wasn’t realistic.
Still, the presence of an original model and the imitator of its styling in the same consumer market doesn’t happen very often outside of China itself, but could happen in this case as Foton and other Chinese automakers have made progress in developing a customer base in Australasia in the past few years.
The most recent instance of the meme of Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man was perhaps when the Range Rover Evoque and the LandWind X7 were both on sale in China at the same time. Surprising industry observers, Land Rover triumphed in a Chinese court after three years of litigation, obtaining an order from the court that mandated LandWind to stop manufacturing its copycat model. This was a landmark ruling, and we don’t recall this happening before or since because courts in China have usually yawned at such cases in the past.