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While foreign car makers are cashing in on China¡¯s auto market, domestic manufactures are also rising to the occasion.
China is now trying to revive the iconic domestic brand of Red Flag vehicles, to revive its auto-manufacturing sector.
This old fashioned limousine is now residing at Beijing¡¯s Auto Museum. It was handmade by China¡¯s top engineers for the country¡¯s top leaders in the 1950s. It is a first-generation CA72 Red Flag, or Hong Qi in Chinese.
The Red Flag was launched after Chairman Mao asked in 1956, when he would be able to travel in a Chinese made limousine. Chairman Mao perched in the back of one while inspecting Red Guards in the 1960s. And over the years, people have gotten a chance to see the Red Flag cars when the country¡¯s top leaders inspected military parades at Tiananmen Square.
Chen Longyin is a successful businessman who already drives a Mercedes-Benz, now he¡¯s considering adding a Red Flag H7 to his collection. The H7 is the latest model, introduced to the market just two months ago.
China is making an effort to revive the Red Flag brand to its former glory as part of a campaign to rejuvenate its auto-manufacturing sector. $845 million US dollars has been spent on this relaunch project alone, and has so far resulted in two models - the H7 and L7.
Jia Ke, an analyst specializing on China¡¯s vehicle market, believes that the relaunch of the limo coincides with President Xi Jinping¡¯s promotion of the "China Dream," a concept intended to instil national pride and further China¡¯s development.
The government is reported to spend anywhere from $13 million to $16 million annually on its fleet of roughly five million vehicles , most of which pours into the coffers of foreign automakers. Like other domestic marques, Red Flag is hoping to benefit from the government procurement programme, and its historic reputation could give it an edge.
While this latest iteration of the Red Flag name seems to bear greater promise, the manufacturer is aware that it cannot expect to ride to success merely through government orders. Quality and brand image are even more critical for the fate of the Red Flag.