Remember China's Evoque knock-off?

Land Rover has taken a conservative approach to concept cars in recent years. The Range Rover Velar debuted without being previewed by a concept, and brand enthusiasts who attended last month's Frankfurt Auto Show were rewarded with a mere design study based on an existing model. The British automaker hasn't gotten lazy or fired its designers; it's worried Chinese companies will copy its designs.

"We're nervous about showing show cars a couple of years out as you can be copied just like that," explained Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern in a recent interview with British magazine Autocar.

McGovern's anxiety isn't founded on paranoia. Chinese automakers have demonstrated time and again they know no limit when it comes to designing a car with a Xerox machine rather than a pencil and a piece of paper. Land Rover isn't happy about the Land Wind X7, a clone of the Evoque, but there's little it can do to protect its intellectual property on the Chinese market. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the X7 is surprisingly popular in China.

Land Rover is in the final stages of developing a brand-new Defender. The off-roader is expected to make its debut before the end of next year, but the brand's newfound reluctance to preview its design explains why we might not see the SUV until the last minute.

Note: Land Rover Discovery SVX concept pictured. Photos by Ronan Glon.