China automaker continues its evolution towards supercar market

China's Hongqi S9 concept supercar unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt IAA motor show


Germany’s IAA Motor Show is one of the leading annual showcases of cutting edge motoring technology and development, this year a Chinese supercar was in the spotlight

(Staff Writers/Newswire)

The last time China’s automaker FAW Group exhibited at Germany’s leading auto show was 1960, a world away from what it’s brought to Frankfurt in 2019. Though not in production its specifications as a road car have not been fully tested; however its Hongqi S9 concept car boast a V8 supercharged/hybrid electric engine that potentially would pump out more than 1,000-horsepower, with 0-100kph acceleration below the magic 3 second mark.

FAW’s first vehicle rolled off the production lines in 1956, a completely unspectacular truck modelled on the Soviet-era ZIS-150 – a four tonne two-wheel drive powered by a measly 90 hp engine and capable of a top speed of just 60km/h.

Xu Liuping, chairman of the FAW Group, travelled to Frankfurt for the unveiling of the all Chinese designed and built supercar S9 and an all-electric SUV concept E115, which features a self-drive capability and has a cruising range of 600 kilometres.

Said, Xu Liuping, “The Hongqi S9 is not just an exhibit, it will be put into production and delivered to customers by 2021.”

Hongqi’s design facility is an entirely in-house operation, headed by former lead designer of Rolls Royce Giles Taylor. Upon his appointment, Xu Liuping announced, “Mr Taylor is familiar with Hongqi and Chinese culture.

“His rich experience in the design of high-end luxury cars and his insight into the trend of global designs and innovations highly match the brand positioning, product layout and future planning of FAW and Hongqi.”

The company reported that Hongqi vehicle sales for the first six months of 2019 were 42,000 units a threefold growth year on year. It’s stated strategy is to become China’s leading luxury car brand aiming to reach 100,000 Hongqi sales in 2020 and 500,000 vehicles by 2035.

It’s been a long journey for the FAW Group and its marquee brand Hongqi, beginning life as a commercial truck producer, by the end of the 1950s its first passenger vehicles rolled off the production line. It became one of the Chinese motor industry pioneers in foreign cooperation and now boasts more than ten of its own brands, in addition to re-badged and licensed production for other car makers.  

FAW has production facilities across 14 provinces in China; its technological advancement has been boosted by strategic partnerships and joint ventures with significant global players including Audi, Volkswagen, GM, Mazda and Toyota. The Volkswagen range produced by FAW rank as the best-selling car brand in China.  

The company is also a major player in component manufacturing with a dozen joint ventures in this areas. It produces more than two and a half million cars every year with annual revenue of US$90 billion and a ranking of 87 in the Fortune 500 list of top global companies.