The Hongqi EHS-9 Re-Imagined

State-owned automaker FAW Group is in the process of reviving historic brand Hongqi as China’s premiere automotive label in order to provide well-heeled patriotic buyers a local alternative to the foreign luxury brands. (It’s the brand that built limousines for Chairman Mao Zedong six decades ago.)

Key to this is introducing new, upmarket models based on internally developed platforms. Previously, Hongqi exclusively relied on donor platforms, like Audi’s MLB which underpins the brand’s H9 flagship sedan shown in long-wheelbase guise below.

Hongqi used this week’s Auto China 2020 in Beijing to present the first of its new-generation vehicles, the E-HS9 battery-electric SUV. The similarities with the Rolls-Royce Cullinan  shouldn’t be a surprise as Hongqi hired Rolls-Royce’s former design chief in 2018.

The E-HS9 was previewed by the E115 concept unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt International Motor Show, and in production guise measures 205.1 inches in length, or longer than a BMW X7.

The battery in the E-HS9 is a 92.5-kilowatt-hour unit and buyers will have two powertrain options to choose from, both dual-motor setups. The more powerful of these features a 163Kw electric motor at the front axle and a 248Kw motor at the rear. Hongqi quotes a 0-100Kmh time of under 4.0 seconds and a range approaching 500Km on a charge for this setup.

The E-HS9 hits the Chinese market later this year and is expected to be priced from 550,000 yuan (approximately ZAR1.4Mil).

Hongqi in January said it plans to introduce 21 new vehicles over a five-year period, the vast majority of which will be 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.