Silk-FAW will invest $1 billion on a factory located within spitting distance of Ferrari's doorstep.
China and America are teaming up to go after Italy's supercar crown. As if that's not enough of an insult, this partnership will set up shop near Reggio Emilia in Italy, just 20 miles from Modena. Somebody told the FAW group it needed to take the fight directly to Ferrari's doorstep and that statement appears to have been taken way too literally.
The company we're talking about is Silk-FAW, which is in the process of building an R&D center, headquarters, and factory in Italy. Silk EV is an American startup based in New York, while FAW is China's second-largest state-owned automotive manufacturer.
The product it wants to sell to a global audience is the Hongqi (pronounced hong key) S9 hybrid hypercar.
The S9 was first unveiled in April 2021 and the press release made a series of extraordinary claims. According to Silk-FAW, the Hongqi S9 will be equipped with a V8 with a plug-in hybrid system. The combined power output is claimed to be 1,400 horsepower and an all-electric range of 25 miles. The 0-60 mph sprint is said to take just two seconds, while the top speed will be more than 250 mph. These claimed figures are more impressive than any modern Ferrari, including the zany SF90 Stradale.
It's easy to write this off as yet another supercar pipe dream, but Silk-FAW is extremely serious. Reuters recently confirmed that the company plans to invest $1.02 billion in the project and that construction will begin in September.
For additional proof that Silk-FAW is not messing around, look at its employment history. The car was designed by Walter de Silva, who led Alfa Romeo's design team from 1986 to 1999. From 2007 to 2015, he was responsible for all designs from Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti.
But design is just one part of what makes a supercar great. You need a prestigious engineer to keep it pointing the right side up. Until it decided to build a supercar, most of Hongqi's models were based on the Audi 100 platform.
To circumnavigate these particular problems, Silk-Faw hired former Ferrari and BMW executive Roberto Fedeli as its chief technical officer. Fedeli played a crucial role in models like the Ferrari 458 Speciale and BMW i8.