Rolls-Royce could soon come under pressure at the top end of the luxury market from a little-known Chinese brand.
As part of the FAW Group, one of China’s biggest car manufacturers, Hongqi aims to achieve this by leveraging a rich cultural and historical heritage that includes building official government limousines such as the popular L5 (below).
Now settled into his role as global vice-president of design and chief creative officer in Munich, Taylor told Autocar of plans to build a flagship luxury car that would target affluent Chinese buyers who would traditionally aspire to own a Rolls-Royce. “We’re picking up young customers with extreme wealth – they want to buy Chinese,” said Taylor of the Hongqi brand, which was revived last year.
But, Taylor insists, rather than cloning Rolls-Royce, any Hongqi flagship designed under his stewardship will have its own distinct identity.
“We have to find a new Chinese, innovative and digital way of crafting new Hongqi vehicles that stand alone,” he said, so they cannot be “accused of being a copy of Rolls-Royce. We’re not going to do that.”
Taylor cited Chinese culture as the inspiration for a new brand identity, and confidently added that Hongqi “will become the number-one luxury brand in China”.
He added: “I think there’s a richness in the Chinese culture, whether it’s through ancient sculpture, fashion, calligraphy – there’s a rich mine to tap into to bring not just a Western answer, but a Chinese answer.”
While that design DNA is key, Taylor also sees innovation as a strength of Chinese brands and recognises an appetite for it.