Silk EV and FAW, China's largest car manufacturer and VW local joint venture partner, said on Wednesday they had launched a joint venture to develop a series of ultra-luxury, high-performance, new energy sports vehicles for China and export markets.

The Silk-FAW JV plans to launch the new full electric and hybrid luxury models under the Hongqi S series – the first model will be the ultra-luxury S9 hypercar.

The car will be designed and manufactured in Italy's Regione Emilia-Romagna where Silk EV is based. As development continues, production will be in both Italy and Changchun, where FAW has its headquarters.

Today's launch of the joint venture followed an announcement by Silk EV and FAW in May 2020 of their plans to "integrate the best of China and Italy's capabilities in a partnership that combines cutting-edge automotive, artificial intelligence, connectivity, innovative battery solutions, and IoT with Italy's world-class design and engineering expertise".

The partnership is the first JV between China and Italy in the super premium and premium auto segments with a commitment of more than EUR1bn.

"The joint venture will be a unique opportunity for China and Italy to bring forth the future of mobility and electrification technology, thereby setting a new benchmark for the world and improving the global automobile ecosystem," the partners said in a statement.

Italian car designer, Walter De Silva has been appointed VP of styling and design for the JV.  He will design the entire lineup of the Hongqi 'S' series of new energy vehicles.

He said: "We are in the final styling phase for the Hongqi S9 [which] has core elements of beauty and elegance, ultimately embracing the 'essence of beauty'."

The JV will also develop a fully connected innovation centre, production facilities, showroom and customer centre in Emilia-Romagna and a production facility and innovation centre in Changchun.

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