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Ford's partner, Zotye, already builds a Smart Fortwo EV clone, a Porsche Macan knockoff and other deeply inspired models.

Ford has formed a 50:50 joint venture with Zotye, a Chinese automaker best known in the West for its bold knockoffs of Volkswagen Group and Daimler vehicles.The new entity, known as Zotye Ford Automobile Co, will focus on building a range of "stylish and affordable" electric vehicles for consumers in China.

Zotye already offers an affordable small EV for local buyers. The all-electric E200 carries a striking resemblance to the Smart Fortwo, but with just 24 horsepower and a top speed of around 50 mph.

The company's T600 crossover appears to take a bit of inspiration from the Volkswagen Touareg, while the SR9 appears to be an affordable Chinese alternative to the Porsche Macan.

Zotye is said to be the market leader in China's all-electric small vehicle segment with sales of 22,500 vehicles this year through the end of October, perhaps explaining Ford's willingness to overlook any intellectual property concerns.

The companies will design, develop and manufacture a new line of vehicles sold under a unique brand family, presumably with a bit more distinction than Zotye's current lineup.