FAW seems content to see its own brand slide rapidly in China but the opposite is happening with two of its other divisions. Bestune, renamed from Besturn, is flourishing, as is Hongqi and there are some intriguing future models not too far away.

Its joint venture partners Volkswagen, Audi and Toyota are all well doing well in China, with only Mazda in trouble. The state-run OEM has begun winding down the FAW brand name for passenger vehicles, steadily switching the identities of some models to its new Bestune division in an attempt to lift margins and brand image. That appears to be working as sales of Bestune vehicles are on the rise, albeit from a low level. As at the end of February, the total for 2019 had reached 10,139 units. To give that some perspective, during the same period, Zotye (10,270) and JMC (10,312) were close companions in the retail sales chart. Numbers for March are awaited.

The other brand doing well is the far more upscale Hongqi, or Red Flag. Originally a maker of limousines for high rank officials of the Communist Party, in more recent times FAW has begun to expand the model range and even introduced an SUV with multiple others planned. Buyers have responded, retail sales hitting 7,396 units by the end of February, a year-on-year surge of 368 per cent. Market share is still small though, and at roughly the same percentage as Qoros or Brilliance, but still well above that of Infiniti, Acura or Land Rover and more than twice the level of Jaguar.

Junpai

There is one more make in the FAW empire. Called Junpai, it is owned by Tianjin FAW Xiali.

The English for Junpai is Jumpal, which is why the four current models have J U M P A L on their tailgates.

The D80 is this division’s newest model, having only gone on sale in China during the first quarter. This 4,500mm long SUV should be in production for seven years, which means a facelift during the third quarter of 2022.

The smaller D60 has been around since 2014, with the next news for this SUV expected to be the arrival of a replacement in 2021. The other two Junpais are the A50, a 4.6m long sedan, the market launch of which took place in September 2017, and the CX65, which is a Volkswagen-based C segment wagon with raised suspension. The car’s debut was at Auto Shanghai in April 2017. The first deliveries took place in April 2018. Expect a mid-cycle restyle in 2021 and a successor in 2025.

Bestune

FAW decided to change the name of its now former Besturn or Bestern brand in 2018. It has given various vehicles in the range new badges but retained their model names. Certain formerly FAW-branded vehicles have also joined the brand, examples including the Bestune Senya R9 which had been the FAW Senya R9. The Senya sub-brand can also be spelt Senia or Xenia. At the moment, there are only two vehicles in this family: the Senya R7 is a B segment SUV (see below).

The newest and also best selling Bestune is the T77. This 4.5m long SUV went on sale in China five months ago, shortly after the debut of the model at the Guangzhou motor show. The T77 is said to be be closely based on the Junpai D60. FAW should add another SUV to the line-up later this year. Some say the model name of this D segment vehicle will be X90.

In the size class below the T77, FAW sells the Bestune X40. It started life in March 2017 as the Bestern X40 and is closely related to the Senya R7. Both models are due to be replaced in 2023/2024.

The former Bestern is having more luck with SUVs than it did with sedans, although the B30 (now Bestune B30) still sells at the rate of a few thousand a year. This four-door car has been around since early 2016, having been a world premiere at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2015. It was previewed by the A-Class, a concept which first appeared at the Shanghai show in April 2015. The car is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine which is a former Volkswagen Group unit. The B30 takes its platform from that of the VW Bora.

An electric variant, the B30 EV, went on sale in November 2017. Both cars changed makes to Bestune in the final quarter of 2018. Even though their life cycles should in theory last until 2022, FAW will probably replace them before then as neither is a strong seller.

Another model which has begun to fade away is the X80. This crossover, inspired by the FAW X concept from April 2011’s Shanghai motor show, entered production in March 2013. The platform is believed to be from the first generation Mazda6. Chinese market sales of the X80 started in May 2013. There probably won’t be a direct replacement as the T77 is already in the same segment and doing relatively well.

Hongqi

At the moment, there are four Red Flag models but more are planned. The current ones are the H7, L5 and L7 sedans plus the E-HS3, an electric SUV.

The H7, an E segment sedan, was launched at the Beijing motor show in April 2012. It is a rebodying of the FAW Toyota joint venture’s locally built Crown. The standard engine was originally an FAW-developed 2.0-litre turbo, with Toyota-derived 2.5- and 3.0-litre V6s optional. A 1.8-litre turbo was added in April 2015.

Deliveries of this car have been slow, with just a small number going to government officials for many years. The car became available to the public in May 2013. The H7 uses a modified version of the twelfth generation Toyota Crown platform’s: FAW and Toyota built various vehicles using this architecture. A successor is due in 2020 or 2021.

The H5 was revealed in prototype form at April 2017’s Auto Shanghai (motor show). As FAW has a joint venture with Mazda, the state-run firm was able to secure Mazda’s SkyActiv FWD-AWD architecture for this car. Thus, the 4,935mm long H5 is a Mazda6/Atenza with a different body. Chinese market sales commenced in June 2018.

Naturally, the H5 features a large Golden Sunflower badge in the middle of the steering wheel – standard fit to Hongqi cars since the 1950s – plus a Red Flag bonnet ornament.

The H5 was Hongqi’s best seller in 2018. Of the brand’s total sales (26,665), the H5 accounted for 19,272 units. Expect a facelift for this car in 2022 and a successor in 2026.

The HQE or L9, a gigantic, bullet-proof limousine, is built in China to special order, mostly for Communist Party officials. The car rides on a modified version of a Land Cruiser chassis provided by FAW Toyota. The engine looks remarkably similar to BMW’s 5.0-litre V12 from the 1980s, though FAW’s engine is said to have a 5,985cc cubic capacity.

This big sedan has an elaborate grille, reflective ‘eyelids’ over the headlamps and rear doors that resemble those of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The car’s first appearance was at a military parade in Beijing in October 2009. This was the replacement for the Hongqi. This stretched first-generation Audi 100 was built in China between 1988 and 2009.

A shorter wheelbase version of the HQE/L9 premiered at the Beijing motor show in April 2012. The production version of this car was launched in China during 2013 as the Hongqi L7. It was displayed at the Shanghai motor show in April 2013 with the same flagpoles in the front wings as the L9 has.

A further derivative, the L5, was revealed alongside the L7 at the 2013 Shanghai show. Apart from having a V8 engine instead of the L7’s V12, it looked almost identical. The L5 had its debut in production form at April 2014’s Beijing motor show. The L5, L7 and L9 are due to be phased out in the early 2020s.

The E-HS3 concept turned out to be a preview of an SUV and the make’s first electric vehicle. The production model, which is 4,490mm long, entered production in December 2018. The concept had been revealed at the Beijing motor show earlier that year.

There are two versions, one with a single motor which produces a claimed 152hp and another which has an output of 304hp thanks to having two motors. It is possible that an HS3 will be added to the line-up at some point: i.e. a variant with a petrol engine.

In September 2018 came news that FAW had struck a deal with electric vehicle start-up Future Mobility Corporation. This appears to mean that the giant state-run firm handed control of its loss-making subsidiary, Tianjin FAW Xiali, to FMC. Media reports out of China further stated that FMC and FAW will combine their R&D efforts in electric cars with the intention being that future electric Hongqi and Byton vehicles will share platforms and components.

The 77X (code name) is due to be revealed by year-end but sales are not scheduled to commence until mid-2020. This big sedan will reportedly have coach doors, in the style of the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Sources say it is most likely to have a Toyota (Crown) platform. The looks are rumoured to be not nearly as flamboyant as some previous Red Flag vehicles in the hope that this will help attract orders from younger buyers.

The L3 is another future model. That name is not yet official but sources claim it will be 5.5m long, powered by a biturbo V8, high priced and possibly built only to order. Prototypes have been seen testing and these appear to have similar styling to the Rolls-Royce Ghost. There have been various delays in bringing this model – under development as the N501 project – to market. The latest intelligence says it will be available from the second quarter of 2020. Expect a decade-long life cycle.

The HS7 will be a large SUV. The Hongqi S concept provided an initial preview. This design study was exhibited at the Beijing show in April 2016. It was close to five metres long and reportedly used the architecture of the then contemporary Audi Q5 as its basis (Audi operates in China via the FAW Volkswagen joint venture). The production model made its debut at the 5th World Internet Conference in November 2018, and was then also shown later that month at AutoGuangzhou. Sales are due to commence later this quarter. The life cycle should be eight years with a facelift in 2023.

P504 is FAW’s internal code for a large SUV in the style of the Cadillac Escalade. A prototype, the LS5, premiered at April 2015’s Shanghai motor show. A second prototype appeared a year later at the Beijing show. This had three badges on the rear: LS5 on the left, Hongqi in the middle under the window, and other Chinese characters on the right which said ‘China First Auto’ (First Automobile Works).

Production, which has been delayed many times, is due to commence later this year. It is unclear whether the LS5 will be only for government and military officials, or whether it might also be available to private buyers.

As of now, it is unclear whether or not the U-Concept, a large SUV that premiered at Auto Shanghai in April 2017, will become a model in its own right. The design study had a screen placed within its steering wheel. It may be that this was one more preview of the ‘LS5’ but some sources below that it could be another SUV for the Hongqi line-up.

Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE.

The next OEM to be featured in the future vehicles series will be BYD.