Stock - Hongqi 2
China's super-luxury automotive offering, the Hongqi, is making its UAE debut. Starting with a showroom and service centre in Abu Dhabi, the brand plans to break into a space that's been occupied primarily by European marques and, of late, by Genesis from Hyundai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Saudi company is launching a dealership for the luxury Chinese auto brand Hongqi – with model prices from Dh90,000 – in the UAE. First up will be a showroom and service centre in Abu Dhabi for Hongqi, with the brand’s limousine being the model of choice for China’s President and top-ranking government officials through the years.

The Saudi company, Altawkilat, has been representing Hongqi in the Kingdom since 2021 and believes the time is right to extend the reach into the UAE, first in Abu Dhabi and then with a presence in Dubai and Sharjah.

Chinese-owned brands had been making headway in the UAE through 2021-22 through aggressive pricing and after-sales support packages. Multiple auto industry sources say that more Chinese brands will make an entry in the UAE and Gulf markets, especially when demand for EVs start getting mainstream.

Hongqi, incidentally, is the first Chinese brand trying to make an impression in the UAE’s premium auto market, with its top-of-the-range EV models carrying showroom rates of Dh390,000.

Hongqi isn’t holding back on the trims in its EV options. With the right pricing, these models could hit the spot with prospective UAE buyers. Image Credit: Source: Hongqi Website

“There are three EVs available right now, and we will expand the line up with a smaller SUV and sedan,” said Mohammed Abduljawad, Chairman and CEO of Altawkilat. “Chinese made car sales in Saudi Arabia grew 30 per cent in 2022 and the clear impression is these brands are starting to make a difference.

“In our case, market share for Hongqi in Saudi Arabia and now in the UAE will follow if we keep doing the right things from the beginning.

“On value for money, it will be quite difficult to beat the Chinese offerings. But it will never be about the lowest prices and dumping models in these markets.”

Breaking into UAE’s premium car space

The Hongqi line up does look impressive, whether it’s the H5 or HS7 sedans or the E-HS9 SUV. The popular Chinese auto brands in the UAE have until now played primarily in the Dh50,000-Dh75,000 price range, with the likes of MG, Geely and JAC making headway.

For Hongqi, the dealership is offering 7-year warranty – and unlimited at that. “The models can hold their own, but we will need to support the brand all the way,” said Abduljawad. “The 7-year warranty is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world.

“The showrooms and service centers will serve a purpose, but we need to offer a premium experience to buyers. Pick up and drop off for servicing from the owner’s home or place of business – we will do the whole works.

“This is winning the brand acceptance in Saudi Arabia and we will make it work in the UAE too.

“Hongqi is a luxury brand – if we gradually win demand in the thousands, we would have done well.”

China's first car brand
Owned by FAW Car Company, Hongqi was launched in 1958, thus making it the first Chinese passenger car brand. In Chinese, hongqi means 'red flag' and in the past, Hongqi models were only meant for high-ranking government officials, including the country's President. It continues to be the Presidential vehicle of choice to this day.