Chinese state owned automaker FAW Group and automotive engineering company Silk EV last week signed a letter of intent to jointly produce a new Hongqi-branded sports car in China.

The partners have agreed to spend CNY10bn (US$1.4bn) on a new joint venture with design, engineering and production capabilities in Jilin province, the main production base of the FAW Group.

According to the agreement, a new plant will be built to produce the first Hongqi sports car – the S-Series (S9) – while the joint venture’s ultimate goal is to build Hongqi into a leading global sports car brand. 

Silk EV, with offices in Italy, China and the US plus a production base near the Italian city of Modena, is described as a leading automotive design and engineering company. It has drawn its current senior staff from leading global sports car brands such as Bugatti, Porsche, Pagani, Ferrari and Lotus.

Silk EV chairman Jonathan Krane said Jilin province had a strong automotive manufacturing industry and an abundance of automotive professionals, which he expected would be of great benefit to the new sports car joint venture.

Hongqi displayed the S9 sports car at the Frankfurt show last September.

It claims a top speed of 400 km/h and acceleration from 0-100km/h in 1.9 seconds.

It is equipped with a newly developed V8T hybrid system with a maximum of 1,400 horsepower.

Earlier this month FAW announced it had started construction of a new CNY7.8bn ($1.1bn) assembly plant with a designated annual production capacity of 200,000 “intelligent connected” new energy vehicles.

The factory is scheduled to be completed in 2022.