The Chinese carmaker accused by BMW and Mercedes-Smart of copying their designs has rejected the claims, citing that it had approval from the Chinese government to build the cars as its defense. Shuanghuan manufactures the Noble minicar, an almost identical replica of the Smart Fortwo, as well as the CEO, a SUV with the rear-end of a BMW X5.

Both BMW and Mercedes have threatened Shuanghuan and its European importer with legal action if the Chinese carmaker carries out its plans to display the suspect cars at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

"Noble and CEO cars, approved by the Chinese government, are legal products," a spokesperson for Shuanghuan told reporters from AFP. Further, the spokesperson explained that the Noble is only sold in China, while the only export markets the CEO is sold in is in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. There were also no plans to display the cars at next month’s Frankfurt show, he said.