Market decline

FAW’s premium brand Hongqi thwarts market downturn

An expanded product line allowed Hongqi, a premium brand of China FAW Group Corp., to maintain strong sales in February amid the viral outbreak.

Hongqi’s shipments last month jumped 33% to 3,752, according to the brand.

In the first two months, sales jumped 104% to 16,382.

In 2019, Hongqi released three new gasoline models – a crossover, an SUV and a full-size sedan – as well as a fully electric crossover. Before that, there were only three products – a limousine, a sedan and a compact sedan.

Last week, Hongqi also completed an expansion of its factory in Changchun City, northeast China, raising its annual production capacity from 100,000 to 150,000.

Hongqi’s deliveries in 2019 tripled to over 100,000 and in January, it set a goal of selling 200,000 vehicles in 2020.

It plans to increase its annual sales to 400,000 in 2022 in part by introducing 21 new and improved products over the next five years.

Hongqi was established in 1958 as a limousine brand for government agencies in China. In the late 1980s, it began marketing vehicles to private buyers, but sales remained low due to a narrow product line.

FAW accelerated product development in Hongqi after Xu Liuping was chosen by the Chinese central government to lead the state automaker in 2017. Xu previously led another state automaker, Changan Automobile Co.

In 2018, FAW hired Giles Taylor, former design director of Rolls-Royce Motors, to lead the design and styling of Hongqi.