It’s that time of year when tech companies are debuting all sorts of new products in the US, thanks to the massive exposure provided by the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and while some of the much ballyhooed launches are for truly new and unique items, many of the others are most decidedly rehashes (or virtual carbon copies) of products that are already on the market under the banner of different companies. In that vein, the latest release from Vietnam’s VinFast, which has been making waves in the electric car market, is an e-bike that bears more than a passing resemblance to another e-bike which is already on the market.
Take a look at the VinFast DrgnFly (what is with the missing vowels in brand and model names these days — is there a shortage of them?), which the company just announced as being available in the US soon. It’s a scrambler-ish setup which VinFast describes as “neo-retro,” featuring a 750W rear hub motor, a beefy frame with moto-style handlebars, and which is purported to be “a connected and smart electric bike,” mostly because it has… wait for it… an app.
Now take another — closer — look at the outrageously priced ($2800!) electric bike and compare it to Super73’s (also high priced) Z-series of e-bikes, and notice how incredibly near the DrgnFly is to a carbon copy of those. Uncanny, am I right? I’m not sure how or why VinFast decided to almost blatantly rip off the design of another company and market it as something new, but this sort of behavior seems to be one of the new themes in micromobility. I mean, sure, don’t reinvent the wheel and all of that, and yes, there are only so many ways to design and build bicycle-ish two-wheelers, and there’s nothing new under the sun, but surely someone in the design department at VinFast is guilty of phoning it in with the DrgnFly.
Of course, some, if not many, of the specs are different on the DrgnFly (what a PITA to type that out) than those of the Super73 Z-series, but I feel like that’s like splitting hairs when the overall appearance is remarkably similar. And yes, there are other e-bike brands out there that are guilty of some of the same sort of copypasta in their designs, but when it is presented by an up-and-coming auto manufacturer with a deep pockets and a long reach in the media, it’s just not cricket.
Maybe the blame can also be partially laid at the feet of the collaborating designers, “Eskild Hansen, an innovative Danish studio with multiple Red Dot Design awards,” but in the end, someone (most likely multiple someones) signed off on this and planned not only its production, but its public release at CES. Sure, that type of behavior is not unheard of, and is maybe even par for the course with consumer gizmos, but the real question is when will Super73 take umbrage at this brazen act enough to bring down the legal hammer?
In parting, I’ll just leave you with the words of Ms. Tran Mai Hoa, Deputy CEO of Sales and Marketing, VinFast Global, who is also guilty of riding the “it’s not what it actually is, it’s a ‘lifestyle’ thing” train when it comes to selling ‘new’ clean tech products:
“VinFast’s DrgnFly is not just an e-bike, it’s a lifestyle option for modern users who seek to express their personality. With its unique design and a wide range of smart technologies, the DrgnFly offers a safe yet unique and accessible mobility option for everyone.”