Hongqi (Chinese: 红旗; pinyin: Hóngqí) is a Chinese luxury car marque owned by the automaker FAW Car Company, itself a subsidiary of FAW Group. Hongqi was launched in 1958, making it the oldest Chinese passenger car marque. In Chinese hongqi means "red flag", a Communist Chinese cultural symbol.
|Parent||FAW Car Company|
Originally, Hongqi models were only for high-ranking government officials and remained in production until 1981. The brand was revived in the mid-1990s.
While the name has endured, the vehicles that bear the brand have been surprisingly varied. The erstwhile dignitary's car has become a taxi, a cut-rate businessman's sedan, and during the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China parade, returned to its roots and participated by carrying party leaders. If there is a common thread linking the disparate Hongqi cars besides brand name, it may be the fact that nearly all are based on modern technology. Today, party officials commonly prefer Audis.
The original Hongqi cars were a luxury item used for the transport of foreign dignitaries and the party elite. Although Chairman Mao claimed not to have been driven in a Hongqi until Nixon's 1972 visit, he did take a personal interest in the cars from the beginning.
Introduced on August 1, 1958, the first Hongqi was the CA72. By September, a convertible version intended to be used by dignitaries in National Day parades had appeared. The CA72's design was based on a 1955 Chrysler. From the beginning, the full-size Hongqi was equipped with a 147 kW (200 PS; 197 hp) V8 engine. The grille was based on a traditional design of a Chinese fan, and remains in use on Hongqis today.
First introduced in 1963, the CA770 model remained in production until 1980 albeit in limited numbers. Around 1,600 of these V8-engined Hongqis were built in total, and over the years various versions were released including a 1965 long-wheelbase model with three rows of seats and a 1969 armored version (CA772).
Between 1995 and 2006, foreign products were manufactured in China and sold as Hongqi models. These included the Audi 100 (CA7200/CA7220) and the Lincoln Town Car (CA7460). There were two Audi 100-based versions—the more luxurious "Century Star" and the smaller (1.8-litre) Hongqi Mingshi.
FAW began production of the third generation of Hongqi vehicles in 2006. Named the HQ3 and based on the Toyota Crown Majesta, it saw little market success. First year sales totaled near 500, and while the target for the second year was 1,400 units, the HQ3 would not be profitable until annual sales of 5,000 were reached—something that may never have happened. By October 2008, the price was reduced considerably and the name changed to Shengshi (“Days of Prosperity") in order to better appeal to private buyers. Sales during the first half of 2008 were all from inventory and totaled 788.
Debuting by 2013, 30,000 units of the latest Hongqi model were initially expected to be produced although a year after launch, less than 5,000 had been sold. Sales are through government procurement; the car is billed as "the official car for minister-level officials". In 2014, the People's Liberation Army purchased at least 1,000 H7 models. A much more expensive model, the L5, was also on sale alongside the H7.
|Production dates||Model designation||Model name (Chinese)||Model name (English)||Platform|
|2007–present||Hongqi CA7460 (Hongqi CA770 based)||红旗旗舰||Hongqi Limousine||Successor to the Hongqi CA770 and based on the 1998–2011 Lincoln Town Car|
|2013–present||Hongqi H7||红旗H7||H7||Toyota Crown Majesta|
|2018–present||Hongqi H5||红旗H5||H5||Based on the Mazda 6 GJ/GL|
|Production dates||Model designation||Model name (Chinese)||Model name (English)||Platform|
|1958||Dongfeng CA71||东风||East Wind||Simca Vedette body and chassis, Mercedes-Benz 190 engine|
|1958–1965||CA72||红旗||Red Flag||1955 Imperial C-69 sedan|
|1963–1980||CA770 series||红旗||Red Flag||1960s Imperial|
|1972–1979||CA774||红旗||Five prototypes were built but were not in production. Designed to replace the Hongqi CA770|
|1980–1987||CA630||红旗||A bus designed as VIP transport for the government, state-owned high-end hotels and travelling agencies. 19 seater load capacity, fitted with a 4.5 litre V8 engine producing 165 horsepower paired to a 4 speed manual gearbox.|
|1982–1984||CA750/CA760||红旗||Red Flag||A sedan made by Hongqi with Datsun 280C styling cues. Was produced to compete with the Shanghai SH760. A long wheelbase version was also available as the CA760 with only one made.|
|1987||CA750F/CA760||红旗||Red Flag||Dodge 600, did not enter production|
|1989||CA7225LH||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1993||CA7221L||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1993–1998||CA1021U3 pickup||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1995–1997||CA7465C8||红旗||Red Flag||Lincoln Town Car|
|1996||CA7246L||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1996–2004||CA7200/CA7220||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1996–2005||CA5020XJB/CA7180A2EL1 Mingshi and Shiba/CA7200E3L/CA7202E3L/CA7202E3L1 Century Star/CA7220EL1/CA7220L1/CA7221L/CA7225LH/CA7226L/CA7228L/CA7240L/CA7242E6L and CA7242E6L1/CA7247L||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1998–2005||CA7460/CA7460L1/CA7460L2/CA7460L3||红旗旗舰||Hongqi Flagship||Lincoln Town Car|
|1999||CA7220A9EL2||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|1999||CA7220A9E||红旗||Red Flag||Audi 100|
|2000–2006||CA7202E3/CA7242E6/CA7182E7||红旗世纪星||Hongqi Century Star||Audi 100|
|2001–2003||CA7180A2E/A3E||红旗明仕||Hongqi Mingshi||Audi 100|
|2001–2005||CA7202A9EL3L2||红旗世纪星||Hongqi Century Star||Audi 100|
|2004||Hongqi CA7400||红旗||Red Flag||Remake of the Hongqi CA770 with a lowered roofline based on the 1998–2011 Lincoln Town Car. Prototype only|
|2006–2010||Hongqi HQ3/Shengshi/HQ430||红旗盛世||HQ3/Days of Prosperity/HQ430||Toyota Crown Majesta|
|2009, 2015||CA7600L||红旗||Red Flag|
Hongqi will sometimes put in an appearance at autoshows held on Chinese soil showing off a concept car that attracts attention.
A Hongqi SUV concept was unveiled at the 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.
At the 2015 Shanghai International Auto Exhibition, Hongqi displayed a concept SUV radically different from its 2008 entry.
At the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, Hongqi unveiled the sports car S9 and the SUV E115.
Not strictly a concept car, the V12 powered HQE was used by high-ranking Hu Jintao during parades celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. It appeared on an official list of upcoming models in 2010 with a retail price of 1.2 million US dollars (which would have made it the most expensive Chinese-built car in history). This model has since been shown at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show as the CA7600L. It is equipped with a 300 kW (408 PS; 402 hp) 6.0 L V12 engine developed in-house.
Relationship with BesturnEdit
Hongqi and another FAW Group brand, Besturn, have exhibited some overlap. In 2008, due to flagging sales, Hongqi showrooms were merged with those of the then recently developed Besturn brand. It was thought that giving the Hongqi brand more sales outlets would increase turnover. At the 2010 Beijing Auto Show Besturn models were shown "under the Hongqi naming series", and until 2011 the two brands both used the Hongqi "circled one" badging.
A total of 2,534 Hongqi vehicles were sold in China in 2013, making it the 67th largest-selling car brand in the country in that year (and the 41st largest-selling Chinese brand). Hongqi sold 2,774 cars in 2014 and became the 72nd largest-selling car brand of China.
In popular (western) cultureEdit
The Hongqi L5 was reviewed by Jeremy Clarkson in a 2019 film for The Grand Tour taking place in China. Armed with western luxury cars, Clarkson and the other presenters seek to prove that western luxury cars are superior, with a series of performance challenges.
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