By on March 5, 2016

Red flag Michigan

TTAC reader Morpheus (who has an awesome name by any standard) sent in this shot of a Chinese limo driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Hongqi H7 isn’t built by some neo-capitalist Chinese outfit, either, as the brand has been in existence since 1958. It’s also properly presidential. Hongqi (which translates to Red Flag) has built limousines for The Party’s higher-up ranks in the past.

But why is it parading around Ann Arbor?

Morpheus said he caught a look at the car in the early morning. His wife was “unimpressed” by the Red Flag as it drove in the direction of a nearby Environmental Protection Agency facility nearby. However, as there’s no plan to bring the Chinese executive brand to America, EPA testing seems well off the mark.

However, there is one company in Ann Arbor that specializes in such vehicles.

It’s known amongst auto industry insiders that BWI tests a lot of Taiwanese and Chinese cars in the Metro Detroit area,” spy photographer Brian Williams said.

Either way, the Hongqi isn’t what you would call pretty. Its headlights ape those used by Skoda in generations past, and the grille has a certain Chrysler 300-gone-Roller/Bentley vibe about it.

Behind that grille could be a 2.5- or 3.0-liter V6 sourced from Toyota, or a 2.0-liter turbo four-banger.

The Hongqi H7 costs about $60,000 USD.

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59 Comments on “What Is This Hongqi H7 Doing in Michigan?...”


  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Well, there HAS been that rumor going ’round that FCA is looking to sell some other company’s cars, rebranded as their own,,, ;-)

  • avatar

    The honky obviously got lost. Either that or Ann Arbor is trying really hard to draw attention to itself.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Yuck, the back of the H7 is like an ES meets LaCrosse knockoff.
    http://www.carnewschina.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/hongqi-h7-beijing-2.jpg?756232

    Hell no for $60k. But now I’m curious what something like an A6L costs there, and/or if this brand can charge that much because it’s “proud and traditional.”

    I much prefer the L7 and its Lincolny Cadillac ways. Even if the front end is stuck in 1955.
    http://www.carnewschina.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/hongqi-l7-china-p-4.jpg?756232
    http://stuffpoint.com/supercar-news/image/231729-supercar-news-hongqi-l9.jpg

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    It’s in testing to be Bernie Sanders’ presidential limousine if he wins in November. Heyo!

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Damn you got to it before me.

    • 0 avatar

      Comment of the week.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes we will win and yes what you said is brilliant and the ultimate truth! And the presidential limousine for Hillary would be VW Phaeton with diesel engine. I hope they already testing it. Now have to come up with Trumpomobile.

      • 0 avatar

        Trumpmobile woiuld be one of those absolutely YUUUUUGE trucks they use for surface coal and probably tarsands mining.

        • 0 avatar

          Canyonero.

        • 0 avatar

          Actually, his preference is for a Rolls Royce, although he accepts he won’t wind up getting one.

          See: http://www.steynonline.com/7408/notes-on-a-phenomenon

          From the article:

          Traditionally in American politics the way you connect with voters is to pretend you’re just as big a broken-down loser as they are. … So much presidential politicking is now complete bollocks, as rote and meaningless as English panto or Chinese opera conventions. Trump doesn’t bother with any of that. Halfway through, he detoured into an aside about how he was now having to go around in an armored car, and how many rounds it could take before the window disintegrated, and how the security guys shove you in and let the reinforced door slam you in the ass. And the thing’s ugly as hell. “If I win,” sighed Trump, “I’ll never ride in a Rolls-Royce ever again.” And all around me guys who drive Chevy Silverados and women who drive Honda Civics roared with laughter. Usually, a candidate claims, like Clinton, to feel our pain, but, just for a moment there, we felt Trump’s.

  • avatar
    MeaMaximaCulpa

    Communist in Michigan, probably sneaked it’s way in from Canada.

  • avatar

    Burnouts?

  • avatar
    multicam

    Red Dawn?

  • avatar
    mcs

    Maybe Walmart is getting into the auto business?

  • avatar
    JimZ

    dollars to donuts one of the automakers bought one and shipped it over for competitive benchmarking.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      That’s going to be an awful car if this is the benchmark, with its copy-cat styling and tiny engines.

      Granted few cars today stand out, so this may be the gloriously uninspiring benchmark they’ve all been looking for.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        Benchmarking doesnt involve aesthetics. Maybe its the V6 version but even that car will tell you the state of play. If they are up to ‘luxury’ Korean levels I’d be surprised.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Maybe someone in Detroit is trying to benchmark for the Chinese market. You know, the largest car market in the world?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Maybe the Chinese engineers/stylist/marketers would have a better idea of what the car should be, especially over the American marketers and engineers that are trying to design something to match the desires of a country on the other side of the Pacific.

            Kinda gotten Detroit into trouble doing that exact thing more than once, you know?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            Hummer, what in God’s name are you talking about?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            In reference to what?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Lol, yes, exactly how Toyota benchmarked the Hyundai Pony when designing the LS400.

      The leftover Buick Regal W body was ruling the market there not long ago, and any American car currently in production is far beyond that. So, are they benchmarking the car to figure out just how quickly they could get panned by every single auto critic in North America?

      Get real.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Maybe, just maybe, you (and Hummer) should pause, think for a second, and possibly consider that this might be benchmarking for a vehicle someone is developing for the *CHINESE* market.

        Was that so f***ing hard?

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Definitely benchmarking. Growing up, I had a close family member that was an automotive engineer. Lot’s of rides in different makes of cars when I was a kid. I think I was the “how well does a kid fit in the back seat” test for a certain manufacturer.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Yes Jim, I stated exactly that 12 hours before you repeated me, and I expressed concern over Detroits history of doing that.
          Was that too hard?

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        JohnTaurus, that attitude is exactly what doomed the Big 3.

        “Why would we benchmark those crappy Japanese cars? They are just , and their customers are , no red-blooded American would ever buy one.”

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Morpheus should have used his skills with the Matrix to get some pics of the dang interior!

  • avatar
    islander800

    “Thank you, comrades, for bailing out our sorry excuse for an automobile company.

    And now, in glorious thankfulness for your solidarity, here for just for you, heroically and patriotically assembled in the Peoples Republic of China, our 2016 Buick Shining Path!”

    Marry T. Barra
    CEO GM

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Hey, if GMs make money by selling 2016 Buick Shining Paths (or whatever) in China, I’m not about to complain.

      Such a car would need to be benchmarked against Hongqi.

      Go for it, GM!

  • avatar
    Skink

    Get back, Hongqi car.

  • avatar

    BWI has a technical center in Brighton, Michigan, just up US 23 from Ann Arbor. The EPA lab on Plymouth Road in A2 is maybe a mile from US 23, so maybe they were just doing a run down the freeway and back.

    Here’s a wild ass guess. BWI sells the adjustable magnetic shocks that GM/Delphi developed. Lotus Engineering, one of the industry’s experts on suspensions, has a lab in Ann Arbor. Maybe BWI was driving the Hongqi over to Lotus for a consultancy.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I kinda like it. If it sold for the price of a Verano but provided something more like a LaCrosse-level experience, hey, could be alright.

    I had a strange affection for the Hyundai XG, until I realized it wasnt as value-packed as I imagined after looking at it new.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Maybe they’re trying to pick up NVH like a nuclear subs tell tale. So they can follow movement and listen in on communication. Just kidding.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    For a car site, the readership seems horribly ignorant of cars outside of the western world…. The H7 is a variant of the Toyota Crown/Majesta?Royale, built in China by Toyota, not too far off from a North American Lexus LS, but without the v8…

    http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/hongqi/h7

    It is basically a Lexus built under a Chinese marque.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Thanks, it looks like we needed that!

      I know a little more about the Japanese market… isn’t the Crown more closely related to the Lexus GS?

      • 0 avatar

        The Crown Royal is based on Toyota’s GRS rear wheel drive platform as is the Lexus GS.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/capsule-review-drive-like-a-boss-a-japanese-boss-toyota-crown-royal-saloon-so-smooth-it-should-come-in-a-purple-velvet-bag/

    • 0 avatar

      It really is an amazing business. Companies sell different versions in different markets at different prices. What you can get away with varies place to place….who knew BMW would make cars with big back seats for China ? Yet, this is as valid as having a speed limitless autobahn next door, or even having a road system which rewards big engines with lots of low end torque in a soft chassis.

      Outside the big PX, you see a lot of chinese cars, and a variety of japanese cars that you’d never see here. In Curaco, I saw quite a few Great Wall cars-they are far enough from the US orbit that they are in the worldwide stream of commerce. (The Chevy Cavalier has nothing to worry about.) Bermuda taxes by size, so you see a lot of very high end B cars-amazing how nice a B Mercedes can be made up, and the biggest size you can register is a 3-they too are outside the us/eu definitions. The US market and the Euro Market are fairly monolithic…France taxes by engine size, Germany by HP, and everyone charges a VAT, but there isn’t much that the majors don’t want to see.

      I can only think it is an amazing job to do marketing for BMW or M/B, and follow what sells in what areas from your broad product portfolio. There is a reason we don’t get that 1 series 5 door…..

  • avatar
    Von

    From what I understand, it has previous gen (or maybe 2 gens ago) Toyota Crown internals and their own…”styling”. Also, interior is well appointed with luxurious materials, but with poor workmanship even by economy car standards.

  • avatar

    Living in NYC for a while, I saw a lot of oddballs, due to the presence of the UN. Back in the 80s’ I saw every top end Communist car, all of which looked like 60’s Chryslers on a good Vodka hangover, add extra velour.

    More frequently, you’d see a middle class euro market-not sold over here (Think Renault) with Diplomat plates. Lots of folks opted to take the home car “over there” for the duration of the posting. I’m guessing this is some variant of that-and if the guy is a car buff he’s loving the unicorn.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I thought Red Flag was built by FAW on a Mazda J56 (Mazda 6) chassis.

  • avatar

    this is the next-gen Chrysler 200.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    I grew up in Plymouth, MI, 18 miles from Ann Arbor and 27 from Detroit. I loved seeing all kinds of development mules driving around. I’ll never forget seeing a line of probably 4 or 5 Peugeot hatchbacks whipping around Livonia with Manufacturer plates. Long live the Motor City!

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    I think it will be rebadged as a new Buick since all of the vehicles sold by this brand have different fathers and a mother who has sold herself out for anything Chinese.


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