It already managed to recruit a top-notch designer.
Chinese cars are coming and there's nothing anyone can do to stop them. Sales for any China-owned automaker have not begun in North America yet, but it's bound to happen. The era of copycat designs is hopefully coming to an end, evidenced by the Hongqi S9 plug-in hybrid hypercar, revealed earlier this year at the Shanghai Motor Show.
The S9 was designed by former Volkswagen Group design chief Walter de Silva. Some of his previous projects include the original Audi Q7 and the A5 coupe, the latter being his favorite design. The S9 is powered by a V8-hybrid setup with a claimed 1,400 horsepower. Zero to 62 mph supposedly requires just 1.9 seconds and top speed is in excess of 250 mph.
Those are extremely impressive numbers and they're good enough to attract the attention of more industry talent. Automotive News Europe reports former Ferrari and BMW executive Roberto Fedeli has been hired as the chief technical officer for Silk-FAW, the US-Chinese joint-venture start-up that owns the Hongqi brand. Fedeli is tasked with handling the company's innovation centers in Italy and China. He'll also head up the autonomous driving division and electrification technologies.
The company is going big with its electric and hybrid car investments. It has committed around $1.2 billion over three years to get these cars up and running. Along with the S9, the S3, S5, and S7 are in various stages of development but we don't know yet which segments they'll fall under.
The S9 is, so far, the only one of the four confirmed to be built in Italy. The job sounds like an appropriate fit for Fedeli who has 26 years of experience under his belt at Ferrari.
Serving on the company's technical board, he played key roles in the development of the LaFerrari and other series-production models like the 458 Speciale and first-generation California. At BMW, he was involved in the launch of the i8 Roadster. His most recent gig was chief technical officer at Alfa Romeo and Maserati. In addition to de Silva and Fedeli, Silk-FAW also managed to recruit Ferrari's former CEO, Amedeo Felisa, as an advisor.