The Hongqi E-HS9, or as the western media calls it the ‘Chinese Rolls Royce Cullinan’ will be exported to Norway, local media has reported.
The introduction of the E-HS9 in the European market is regarded as the first and critical step for Hongqi to establish the brand in the Old Continent. Hongqi’s strategy is to start with North-western Europe with its E-HS9 and familiarize European buyers with the Hongqi brand. It follows a top-down approach and further plans to launch small-and-medium-size SUV and sedan models.
FAW has tied up with Norwegian auto distributor Motor Gruppen – a reputable auto distributor in Norway with 45 years of experience – to sell the Hongqi E-HS9. Motor Gruppen would support both sales & service of the E-HS9 in the Norwegian market. FAW believes that it will expand availability of the Hongqi range from Europe to the rest of the world in the future.
The E-HS9 was launched a few days ago in the Chinese market at just CNY 5,09,800 or INR 57 lakh in the local market. Hongqi is the luxury marque of Chinese auto manufacturer FAW Group.
The Hongqi E-HS9 has a sleek exterior and a far more futuristic interior compared to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. However, there’s no denying that its statesman-like styling has hints of the British model. The Chinese Rolls Royce is generating interest even in other markets. On 29 September 2020, FAW had said that it had received a total of 1,437 orders, of which 650 units have been ordered from abroad.
The Hongqi E-HS9 is the production version of the Hongqi E115 concept, which has been designed by Giles Taylor, a former designer at Rolls-Royce. Prior to joining Hongqi as its Global Vice President of Design and Chief Creative Officer, Taylor oversaw the design of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Phantom.
The Hongqi E-HS9 features the 12-bar vertical grille that lights up in a U formation with the ‘Red Flag’ icon at the centre. The grille is flanked by two vertical ‘fangs’ to emphasize the 3D-effect and the headlamps could be the largest for a production vehicle. The shoulder line runs from the upper lamps across to the side to the rear combination lights to provide a commanding look, whereas other details worth mentioning include the pillar bezels to break the optical bulk, height emphasized by its glass-to-metal ratio, side applique designed like a light trail, and chrome bumper finishers.
The interior layout maybe conventional but the cabin is one of the most digital ones in the industry. There are seven displays divided between the first- and second-row occupants, four in the front and three at the back.
Matrix LED headlights, flush door handles, face recognition AR-enabled full-HD head-up display, ‘fully-digital dashboard’ integrating three displays, flush-fitted second-row entertainment displays in first-row seats, etc. are some of the equipment highlights of the Hongqi E-HS9. Level 3+ autonomous driving tech is also available on the brand’s flagship SUV.
The Hongqi E-HS9 is based on the FMA platform. It measures 5,209 mm in length, 2,010 mm in width and 1,713 mm/1,731 mm in height, and it has a 3,110 mm wheelbase. It is available in two different technical configurations, both having an all-wheel drive drivetrain layout with two motors. The base configuration is available in 7-seat and 6-seat versions and the top-end configuration is available in 6-seat and 4-seat versions with 22-inch wheels.
The base configuration has two 160 kW motors and an 84 kWh battery pack, and it delivers a range of at least 460 km (NEDC). The top-end configuration uses a 160 kW motor, a 245 kW motor and a 99 kWh battery pack. It can go up to at least 510 km (NEDC) on a full charge. With just 10 minutes of fast-charging, both configurations are able to return a range of 100 km or more. The E-HS9 supports wireless charging technology that can fully charge the SUV in 8.4 hours.
What do the Chinese think?
A talented Chinese sketch artist and automotive enthusiast who goes by the handle ‘Wei Sir’ had sketched the front, side, rear and interior of the Hongqi E115 electric SUV. On Chinese site PCAuto.com.cn, he says the way the Chinese public perceive Hongqi has changed completely after it unveiled the H9 (flagship sedan) recently. He notes that everyone now pays attention to it, talks about it and the Chinese hope that Hongqi becomes a domestic luxury car brand that people aspire for.
Hongqi, which was originally a sedan for senior members of the Chinese government, over the last couple of years is viewed increasingly as an aspirational luxury car brand in China with serious ambitions to take on the German Big 3. Sales of Hongqi shot to 100,000 vehicles last year for the first time, with the company drifting away from conservative looks and plain interiors to a more forward-looking design, electric drivetrains, new materials and processes, integrating AI and 5G in its vehicles and promising to mass-produce L3 and L4 autonomous vehicles in 2020 and 2021. The company is aiming to get to about 1 million units per year this decade and has lined up 21 new models, 18 of which would be electric or hybrid.
Meanwhile, FAW Group Corporation, the mother company of Hongqi, has planned to increase Hongqi’s sales by 100% to 200,000 units in 2020, 400,000 in 2022, 600,000 in 2025, and 800,000 to 1 million in 2030. These are numbers from before the Coronavirus outbreak that shut car plants down for a few weeks in China.
Hongqi recorded its highest-ever annual sales in 2019 with total sales of 100,166 vehicles. The company has planned to launch 21 new models that will include 18 new energy vehicles to take on the established players in the luxury car market. Chinese portals are speculating that the chassis of the E115 will spawn a luxurious MPV (akin to a Lexus LM) in the coming years.