Caixin
Jan 10, 2018 06:24 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Storied Hongqi Car Brand Steps on Sales Accelerator

Automaker Hongqi announced a new sales strategy that will rely heavily on new-energy vehicles. Above, a Hongqi concept model car is displayed. Photo: FAW Group Corp.
Automaker Hongqi announced a new sales strategy that will rely heavily on new-energy vehicles. Above, a Hongqi concept model car is displayed. Photo: FAW Group Corp.

Hongqi, a storied high-end car brand whose passengers included Richard Nixon during his historic trip to China, is looking for new relevance with an aggressive plan to take on the global luxury market.

Five months into his tenure as chairman of Hongqi parent FAW Group Corp., Xu Liuping rolled out a new strategy for the brand, which will rely heavily on new-energy vehicles to take on the world. He also showed off a new concept vehicle, and unveiled some heady sales targets that are many times the current anemic levels.

Hongqi, which means “red flag,” was China’s exclusive automobile for high-ranking government officials for decades. The brand is widely known for carrying Chinese and world leaders, and also for its use in military parades.

But as more foreign brands entered China, Hongqi gradually lost its leading place. The brand sold just 4,398 vehicles in 2016 and 3,612 vehicles in the first 11 months of last year, according to insurance statistics. By comparison, global giants BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi sold a combined total of more than 1.5 million vehicles in China last year, in a luxury market estimated at around 2.5 million vehicles.

Xu is aiming to sharply ramp up Hongqi’s volume, announcing a plan to raise the figure by more than 20 times in three years. The company is targeting an ambitious 100,000 annual vehicle sales by 2020, and 500,000 by 2035, it said at an event to discuss the overhaul.

To move toward that goal, Hongqi unveiled four new product lines, including the L line of luxury cars, the S line of sporty sedans, the H line of classic models, and the Q line of business cars. Among 17 planned models under these four lines, 15 are electric, with an eventual goal of taking Hongqi completely electric, Xu said.

Contact reporter Zhang Qizhi (qizhizhang@caixin.com)

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