A Chinese manufacturer is going to create a factory to manufacture a sports car in Italy. It should be sold under the Hongqi brand.
Silk-FAW is a partnership between Chinese carmaker FAW and Silk EV, an American firm specialising in automotive design. The company recently decided to build a new factory for the production of hybrid and electric sports cars in Emilia Romagna. The investment is expected to be worth €1 billion over a three-year period, but details are not known yet.
The car of the elite, the Party top brass
The cars will be assembled in China and Italy, and sold under the Hongqi brand. The first is the S9, which was introduced at the last Frankfurt Motor Show, back in September 2019. At the time, it was to be a hybrid, powered by a V8 and said to develop no less than 1400hp. Hongqi has been the wheels of the Chinese Communist Party first secretaries since 1958. In fact, it is the oldest Chinese car brand. It was mothballed in the 1980s but was reborn in the following decade. It is part of FAW, a long-standing partner of the VW group in China. The brand introduced the H7 sedan in 2013 and has since sold 30,000 units.
Moving on fast!
Hongqi’s business plan is to produce… 300,000 cars per year from 2025! With no less than twenty new models, the majority of them being electricity- powered. The current range consists of about ten saloons and SUVs. The S9 will obviously be positioned at the top of the range and its production should be limited to 70 units, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
The car is the brainchild of Walter da Silva, ex-Volkswagen Group, who has become design manager for the new group. In addition, the former head of Ferrari, Amedeo Felisa, is acting as a consultant for the whole project. The Italian location choice in the “Motor Valley”, is no coincidence. Many suppliers and other specialised subcontractors have been there for a very long time. They work with Ferrari, Pagani, Lamborghini and Ducati. Production is not expected to start before 2023…
The main question is, will this project have any credibility with potential buyers in Europe? Establishing a new brand on the old continent is never simple or achieved in 10 years. Let’s think of Lexus or Infiniti, which threw the towel recently and withdraw from European markets. On the other hand, for Chinese people, it gives it substance as it will be made in Italy, and just a stone’s throw from Maranello. This could bring a certain prestige to the Hongqi. Especially if, through some ties with Volkswagen, the brand could get close to Lamborghini… (Text: Dimitri Urbain)