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Chinese FAW teamed up with American startup

According to chief designer Walter de Silva, the S9’s design is “in its final stages” and the production model will be unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April.

Chinese automaker FAW Group and US startup Silk EV issued a joint announcement in which they announced plans to invest up to 1 billion euros in the design, development and production of high-performance electric vehicles in Italy and China. The design of the cars will be developed by the former top manager of the Volkswagen Group Walter de Silva, reports with reference to the press release of the companies.

The first model will be the S9 hypercar, shown as a concept model at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. The joint venture also plans to release three more models – S7, S5, S3.

The S9 and S7 will be built in Italy, Silk startup chairman Jonathan Crane said during an online press conference on Tuesday. He did not give a start date for production or a target volume.

The joint venture will produce cars at a new production center in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, also known as the “Valley of the Engines”, as it is home to renowned automakers such as Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Ducati.

The body of the S9 will be supplied by Dallara Automobili, a racing car company based in Emilia Romagna. Silk EV’s Italian headquarters are located in Modena. Electric vehicles will also be produced in China’s Changchun province, where FAW is headquartered. Changchun will focus on producing S5 and S3 models. The vehicles will be sold in China under the FAW Hongqi S badge. The brand name outside of China has yet to be determined.

The joint venture with Silk EV will help FAW strengthen its Hongqi brand and give the automaker a link to the Italian region renowned for its heritage of luxury cars and racing cars, it said. The joint venture’s design studio will be headed by De Silva, a former artist of the Volkswagen Group. De Silva left the VW Group in 2015 after a career at Fiat and Alfa Romeo, as well as the VW Group, where he created the Audi radiator grille to give the brand’s cars a standout design compared to rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The S9’s design is “in its final stages”, he said, and the production model will be unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. The S9 concept shown in 2019 had a 4.0-liter petrol V8 that was paired with an electric motor. The total output was 1400 hp.

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