Red Flag
Red Flag

It’s the Cullinan . . . make that Hongqi

CHINA’S state-owned carmaker FAW Group is reviving the Hongqi, or Red Flag, as the nation’s premiere automotive brand in a bid to provide a home-grown alternative to  foreign luxury brands. 

Originally based on a Chrysler-Imperial chassis, Mao Zedong was ushered around China in his ‘beloved’ Honqi some 60 years ago.

President Richard Nixon was transported in one when he visited China in 1972.

However, the new one, just shown at Auto China 2020 in Beijing, is an all-electric affair and built on its own chassis.

Previous examples relied on donor platforms, such as Audi’s MLB which is still used on the brand’s H9 flagship sedan.

Hongqi used Auto China 2020 in Beijing to present its new-generation E-HS9 battery-electric SUV. 

It looks a lot like a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, probably because Hongqi hired Rolls-Royce’s former design chief back in 2018.

But of course, it could be sheer coincidence.

The battery in the E-HS9 is a 92.5kWh unit and buyers will have two powertrain options to choose from, both dual-motor setups. 

The more powerful of these features a 162kW electric motor at the front axle and a 248kW motor at the rear.

Hongqi quotes a 0-100km/h time of “under 4.0 seconds” and a range of up to 480km on a single charge.

The E-HS9 will be available to buyers in China this year, priced from 550,000 yuan or about $113,000 Aussie dollars.


Given the current political stand-off, it probably won’t be sold in Australia just yet. Or in Trumpland.

In January Honqi said it planned to introduce 21 new vehicles over a five-year period, the majority of them electrified.

The brand sold about 100,000 vehicles in 2019 but has a goal to lift its annual sales figure to 600,000 units by 2025.

Also at Auto China 2020, Geely unveiled a modular EV platform destined for models across its brands, which include Lynk & Co., Polestar, Proton and Volvo.

It’s called the Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), and was demonstrated in a small fastback sedan from Lynk & Co. dubbed the Zero Concept.

The striking vehicle is set to go into production model next year.

Other models to be based on the SEA platform will be announced at a later date.

Geely, which describes the SEA platform as “open-source,” is also keen to supply the platform to other automakers.

For its current electric cars like the Volvo XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2, Geely relies on an electrified version of the Compact Modular Architecture originally developed with Volvo for internal-combustion cars. 

The SEA platform is Geely’s first dedicated EV platform, said to be capable of powering various models from the subcompact to the mid-size segments — as well as car, SUV and light commercial body styles. 

Geely says a range of more than 600km is possible.

It is also working with Intel-owned image-recognition company Mobileye to integrate advanced electronic driver-assist features, including some self-driving features.

Vehicles based on the platform can be fitted with Mobileye’s SuperVision surround-view system which uses multiple cameras and sensor technology coupled with map data to provide accurate driver-assist features such as automatic emergency braking, and, eventually, full self-driving capability.

“This is a highly scalable pure electric architecture,” Kent Bollevan, Geely’s head of advanced vehicle architectures said.

 “It will allow us to make best-in-class vehicles with leading dynamics, connectivity, intelligence and shared functionality in very high volumes that will bring zero-emission transportation to many more consumers.”


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