Nothing in China is easy to understand for a western.
Or at least for one western: me.
However one brand name is easy to understand: FAW, the acronym of First Auto Works.
The first, official, car factory established by the Chinese government in Changchun, Jilin, back in 1953.
Its first accomplishment was indeed the 1958 Hong Qi, Chinese for Red Flag.
Ever since, through ups and down, the Hong Qi has been the truly Chinese automobile. In its first years and decade, when Chinese mobility relied on bicycles, the few Hong Qi that the FAW car company could produce, were the hunting reserve of the high-rank leaders of the ruling party and few state dignitaries.
They have been “for governments only” so far but now, and here is the big news for 2014, the company can sell them to any buyer.
Well, to be precise to any buyer ready to part from a check of some $ 800,000, depending on the exchange rate, to own the one and only icon of the Chinese automotive industry.
The official price indeed is reportedly 4.9 million Yuan. This is the amount paid by a very wealthy Chinese businessman for very first car sold to a private at the Beijing
Motor Show, for the ultimate V12, 300 kW, Hongqi L5, China’s answer to the Bentley Mulsanne and Rolls-Royce Phantom.
The Chinese flagship Hongqi L5 is powered by a six-litre V12 with 408hp and 550nm, mated to a six-speed automatic. The L5 is Big: 5555 mm. in length, 2018 mm. For width and is 1578 mm high, sitting on a 3435 mm. wheelbase.
An Icon that has been 60 years in the making.
That first generation Hong Qi, based on a 1995 Chrysler Imperial was produced along 23 years in different variants.
With production of Hong Qi being so rare, there was a long list of “high officials” waiting for the privilege of an official car. The demand started to be met with an adequate supply only after a joint venture established by FAW with Volkswagen back in 1991. The new company launched the second generation with their first “limousines”, based on the Audi 100. There were two versions: one called “Century Star” was the luxury option; the second was the Hongqi Mingshi (the more popular 1.8 litre version). Another Hongqi model was developed and built on the American Lincoln Town Car though 2005.
In the meantime the nameplate of the “Red Flag” model had become brand name.
The third generation went on sale in 2006 with the “Hongqi HQ3” label, and was not much different from the Toyota Crown Majesta the FAW-Toyota joint venture was assembling in China. read more ...
The fourth generation was introduced as a concept car in 2005 at the Shanghai Auto Show, as the Hongqi HQE and became a very limited production model on sale at 1.2 million dollars in 2010. The Hongqi HQE was indeed used by President Hu Jintao during parades celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China on October 1st, 2009.
The bullet-proof Hongqi HQE was developed in-house by FAW and is 6.4 meters long, 2.05 meters wide and 1.72 meters high, and reflects strong Chinese feature such as: "the typical radiator grille in the shape of a Chinese folding fan, and the taillights was like an ancient palace lantern," in the words of Goo Shijun, head of the Hongqi manufacture department of FAW. He stressed that new techniques were used in making the car: «the noise of the engine was low, lower than nearly all the foreign and domestic engines. When the car was started, you could hardly feel any vibration," said Li Jun, director of the technical centre of FAW. who proudly commented: «In fact, the Hongqi HQE car is more than just a car," he said. "It represents the most advanced automobile manufacture technique, and the spirit of innovation and enterprising."
A Range for Chinese Proud.
By eventually going to the market (so far Hongqi were for governments sale) the FAW Hongqi proves it has achieved the level of confidence in its ability to deliver competitive products that are capable of meeting top international standards, if not yet the international markets head on. To this aim Hongqi is also launching the more affordable, although highly luxurious and pricey H7, a 5.095 mm. Limousine with a contemporary style of top quality with technology “made in China” of international standards. read more ...
The Hongqi H7 is indeed the real alternative to the very successful premium car built in China by American, European or Japanese joint ventures.
For those who feel the Hongqi L5 is not big and comfortable enough Hongqi can deliver their huge L9, more than a long wheelbase L5, this is of a shorter development of the famous 6.4 metres long Hongqi HQE built for Hu Jintao on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.