Hongqi, the King’s Chinese retro limousine
During the Mao era, the car brand «Red Banner» (Hongqi) was reserved for the Communist Party elite. Now the flagship model is used to transport foreign heads of state, including Norway’s King and Queen.
Hongqi has its name from a communist symbol but is currently the most expensive car produced in China.
The top model L5 has a price tag of almost NOK 6 million, and it is this car the Royal Couple is allocated during the ongoing state visit to China.
The characteristic retro-style car brand is also the official head of state vehicle in China and is used by President Xi Jinping.
The inspiration for the design comes from the People’s Republic parade car, the Hongqi CA770, which was in production until 1981.
L5 was put into production in 2014. According to the Forbes magazine, the model is 5.55 metres long and over two metres wide. Normally, the car weighs a total of 3.2 metric ton, but the armoured version that the Royal Couple is using probably weighs a lot more than that.
The engine that powers this monster is not up to scratch. It’s a V12 engine with 402 horsepower, six gears and four-wheel drive. Hongqi does not inform about top speed and acceleration, probably because it’s not at all impressive, Forbes writes.
In the back seat, the King and Queen have 1.2 metres of legroom and a Bose sound system available to them.
On the hood is a big red banner, which together with the retro design testifies to the era when the car brand was born.
The first Hongqi cars were produced in 1958, and for a long time, only the Communist party elite was allowed to be driven around in them.
It would be 14 years from the start of production to Mao Zedong for the first time was driven in a Hongqi, something which occurred when the disgraced US President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, according to an article in China Daily from 2007. The Communist leader was, however, impressed by the car project.
Today, most rich Chinese and senior officials use foreign cars.
Popular in state-owned enterprises
Hongqi had its golden years under Mao, but several models were in production into the eighties. In the 1990s and a partly in the 2000s, foreign cars were sold in China under the Hongqi brand, including the Audi 100 and the Toyota Crown Majesta – which is still sold as a Hongqi model.
The latest generation of Chinese-produced cars includes, among other models, the L5 and the smaller model L7, which are largely purchased by state-owned enterprises.
With these and several other emerging models, they hope to continue the car brand into the future.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today