It’s no secret that the bus manufacturer Xiamen King Long longs to be a passenger car maker. Both a hatchback and MPV carrying its logo have been spied several times. And its cross-town affiliate, Golden Dragon Bus, has been exposed developing SUVs. Yet, without a government permit, it is unknown when or if they can realize that passenger car dream.
Above: King Long Saima.
Above: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Last week, auto.sina.com.cn revealed that Xiamen King Long was working on another project: building a low-roof version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter made in China by Fujian Benz. What has been copied is a Sprinter with a 3665mm wheelbase and 14 seating positions (the extended Sprinter has a 4325mm wheelbase and 17 or 20 seats). Remaining highly faithful to the original, the imitator is approximately 5900mm long and 1990mm wide, and, except for the lowered roof, almost an exact replica in exterior and interior styling.
A nameplate on the back door indicates the upcoming van is called "Saima," which means "race horse." The field in which it intends to compete, long dominated by Ford Transit and Iveco, has recently become crowded with models of native brands such as JAC Sunray, SAIC Maxus V80, and Donfeng U-vane.
King Long Saima is expected sell for 150,000-200,000 Yuan, which is less than half of the price of the Sprinter.