Silk-FAW S9 Plug-In Hybrid

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Chinese-US hypercar start-up Silk-FAW announced this week that it was moving ahead with its €1.02 billion ($A1.5b) plan to build electrified hypercars in Italy.

The automotive engineering and design firm, which combines the talents of US-based Silk EV and Chinese car-maker FAW, will finalise the purchase of land in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia this week with construction of its 320,000 square-metre production facility to commence from August 5.

Silk-FAW said it would hold a ground-breaking ceremony at the construction site, which will also include the company’s headquarters and research centre in early September.

The location – set in Italy’s famed Motor Valley – brings an air of exclusivity to the burgeoning brand. It is located close to the home of such prestigious Italian brands as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani and motorcycle maker Ducati and is being developed in part with the assistance of former Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa.

According to a report published by Automotive News Europe (ANE), the regional government and the city of Reggio Emilia have yet to receive crucial documents confirming Silk-FAW’s commitment to build at the location and has sought reassurance from Silk-FAW amid eleventh-hour concerns that the plan may not go ahead.

Silk-FAW board member and head of FAW Capital Holding, the unit in charge of FAW’s external investments, Li Chongtian told ANE that the project has the full support of the company.

“Silk and FAW are committed to the success of our partnership,” he said, adding that the group was working to ensure the joint venture had the necessary resource to execute its business plan.

The joint venture is chaired by US financial specialist Jonathan Krane, who has recruited a roll call of elite automotive executives. 

The list includes former Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, and Maserati veteran Roberto Fedeli; former Ferrari, Maserati, and McLaren engineer Carlo Della Casa; Ferrari, Maserati, and McLaren software and electronic technologies expert Davide Montosi; and former Aston Martin and Lamborghini executive Katia Bassi.

As reported by GoAuto previously, Silk-FAW plans to develop and produce electric and hybrid luxury hypercars in China and Italy under the Hongqi (Chinese for ‘red flag’) nameplate. The first model, the plug-in hybrid Hongqi S9, was designed by former Volkswagen styling chief Walter de Silva who now heads the design department at Silk-FAW.

The vehicle will make its production-ready debut at the Munich IAA in September.

The Hongqi S9 produces a claimed 1044kW and is built on a carbon-fibre spaceframe chassis housing a newly developed 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with electric turbocharging and twin electric motors. According to Silk-FAW, the car can accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in 1.9 seconds.

The S9’s variable geometry aerodynamics, including seamless intake and extraction via the headlight and tail-light surrounds, are handled by Italian aerodynamic and chassis specialists Dallara Automobili.

The Hongqi S9 is the first of a range Silk-FAW models. The joint venture says it has plans to produce a range of models in China and Italy, including SUVs, coupes and at least one convertible.

The manufacturer has stated previously that only the S9 will feature hybrid power and that all other models will be fully electric.

Alongside the S9, the less expensive S7 will also be produced in the group’s Italian facility. The smaller S5 and S3 ranges will be built in Changchun, China, where FAW has its base.

FAW already boasts existing joint ventures with Mazda, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

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