Walter de Silva-designed Hongqi S9 hypercar in the works

The ongoing transformation of Hongqi into a preeminent luxury and performance brand marked a major milestone last week with the establishment of a joint venture between Chinese auto giant FAW and an Italian design and engineering company by the name of Silk EV.

The goal of the Silk-FAW joint venture is to develop a range of high-performance, high-luxury electric cars and hybrids for Hongqi’s new S series. And tapped to oversee the design of cars developed by the joint venture is Walter de Silva, the former Volkswagen Group design chief responsible for the original Audi A5 and R8, as well as 2006’s stunning Lamborghini Miura concept.

The first model from the joint venture will be the S9 hypercar, a concept of which was rolled out at the 2019 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The concept featured a V-8-based hybrid powertrain good for 1,400 hp, and it’s possible a similar setup is planned for the production version.

Silk-FAW hasn’t said when the S9 will be launched but the company did say production will be handled at Silk EV’s headquarters in Modena, Italy. High-volume models will be built in China, including at a main site to be constructed in the city of Changchun. FAW is committing over $1 billion to the project and targets sales of one million units by 2030.

In case you aren’t familiar with Hongqi, the name roughly translates to “Red Flag” in English. It’s the brand that built limousines for Chairman Mao Zedong six decades ago, though in recent years it has been selling rebadged versions of cars from other automakers. FAW is keen to revive Hongqi as China’s premiere automotive label in order to provide well-heeled patriotic buyers a local alternative to the foreign luxury brands. A recent addition to its lineup was a flagship electric SUV.

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The goal for the cars from the Silk-FAW joint venture is to develop them for global markets, so we could potentially see some Hongqis reach the United States in the not too distant future.


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