China’s “Red Flag” Sedan May Go International

The Hongqi (Red Flag), the only local sedan brand in China, will try to achieve a stronger market position through international cooperation.

"We'll develop the Hongqi in an open and cooperative way," said Zhu Yanfeng, general manager of the China First Automobile Works Group Corporation (FAW), at the China Changchun International Automobile Fair being held in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province.

Analysts said it may indicate that the Hongqi, born in the time of the planned economy, would make a tangible breakthrough by conducting cooperation with international auto giants either in technology or in capital.

The Hongqi, first produced by China's first auto maker FAW in 1958, was seen as China's "political sedan" and protocol car. Some of its notable passengers include late Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and former U.S. President Nixon.

However, its glorious history did not keep it from being effected by the market economy. In the early 1990s FAW developed new Hongqi models based on advanced foreign technology and was rewarded with sound market feedback.

New models at different prices enabled the Hongqi to become accessible to regular people. FAW sold 20,000 Hongqi sedans one year at its height.

However, most Chinese auto makers began to cooperate with foreign businesses and the Hongqi was left behind in terms of investment, production costs, and technology compared with the Sino-foreign products.

Hongqi sales have been declined this year by 20 percent over the same period of last year, according to relevant sources.

"The upgrade of their products is the most emergent task for all local auto makers on the eve of China's accession to the World Trade Organization," said Zhang Xiaoyu, vice-director of the automotive industrial federation of China.

Zhang said he believes that further growth must be sought for the Hongqi on an open international arena in order to become a strong competitor.

Zhu Yanfeng expressed confidence that Hongqi would successfully overcome the current difficulties through technology renovation and more investment.

"I do hope that one day Hongqi will regain its glory in China because we all have a special feeling towards it," said Fan Yingxin, who had a picture taken in front of a convertible Hongqi that was once traveled in by Deng Xiaoping.

(People’s Daily 08/30/2001)

In This Series

Beijing to Follow New Standards on Auto Emission

FAW, Mercedes-Benz Talk JV



Web Link