How China's best plans to take on Rolls-Royce
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China is set to take on the pinnacle of automotive luxury, Rolls-Royce.
Former Rolls-Royce design boss Giles Taylor has revealed plans to deliver a million-dollar-plus luxury car to fight with the world’s best under the new Hongqi brand he recently defected to.
The man who spent seven years honing cigar humidifiers and night sky roofs for the world’s most expensive and luxurious limousines says the growing Chinese desire for local luxury is spurring the push into previously uncharted territory.
“We’re picking up young customers with extreme wealth … they want to buy Chinese,” Taylor says of the brand that has a 60-year heritage but was only revived in 2018.
He says the idea of a Chinese Rolls-Royce rival will appeal to growing patriotism in the country.
“Even though they love a Rolls-Royce I think there’s now an appetite to buy Chinese luxury,” he says.
Taylor says any Rolls-Royce rival from Hongqi won’t be a clone — Chinese maker Geely made waves with a knock-off of the famous brand — but instead build on the history of China.
“We have to find a new Chinese and innovative and digital way of crafting new Hongqi vehicles that stand alone from maybe being ever accused of being a copy of Rolls-Royce,” says Taylor. “We’re not going to do that.”
Rather than undercut Rolls-Royce on price, Taylor says any top shelf luxury car will sell on its content and innovation.
“I came back to craftsmanship, the artistic culture of China, whether it’s woods, whether it’s jade stones, silks. There’s a beautiful rich crafted history … we will use those crafted traditions in a way that will be beautiful and elegant and attract people in their own ways.”
While Taylor believes a Hongqi flagship will be accepted in China he acknowledges cracking the international market will be much more difficult.
“To bring the Chinese ‘Rolls-Royce’ out of China will always be a challenge because the 114-year brand legacy of Rolls-Royce has been cultivated and crafted and enhanced decade on decade.
“With Hongqi we’re starting somewhere fresher. But in many ways … sometimes the shackles of heritage are constraining. So there are positives and negatives in bringing a new luxury brand out of China.”
Taylor is intent on creating the DNA that will separate Hongqi but make it aspirational and desirable.
“We need to work out a way of carefully crafting its brand persona and platform outside of China, and that will take time.”