Ex-Rolls-Royce lead designer lands in Munich, working for FAW Group

Giles Taylor to lead design revival of luxury brand Hongqi

Giles Taylor has moved to China, via Munich. That's what Rolls-Royce meant when it released a 52-word statement in June declaring that its former design chief was leaving "to pursue alternative business interests." In a six-year career at the UK carmaker, Taylor and his team gave us the Dawn convertible, second-generation Phantom, and Cullinan SUV. Now, China's FAW Group, one of the country's big three automakers, has announced that Taylor will assume the post of Global Vice President of Design and Chief Creative Officer for the group.

Taylor's specific focus will be on reviving the long-lost luxury fortunes of the Hongqi brand through "design strategies and unique style concepts." Hongqi, which means "Red Flag," is said to be China's oldest and most famous car brand. In 1958, FAW Group created the Hongqi limousine for Chairman Mao Zedong, and for a while after that only high-ranking officials had access to a Hongqi. The brand remained in production, although in decline, until 1981. FAW reestablished it in 1993 using the borrowed Lincoln Town Car platform.

Since Xu Liuping took over as chairman of FAW last year, he's made restoring the Hongqi brand, and taking it global, two of his prime objectives. Liuping wants to sell 300,000 units per year by 2025, a hundred-fold increase over current numbers. In April, Hongqi showed off the E-Jing GT concept at the Beijing Motor Show.

Taylor will remain in Munich, where he's spent a lot of time over the past few years as a high-ranking vassal of the BMW Group. There, he'll assemble a design team to launch an FAW Advanced Design Center to lead "the infusion of internationalized design philosophies into the complete range of FAW products including autonomous passenger cars." If Taylor was looking for a bigger challenge than keeping Rolls-Royce at the head of the pack – something we'd have to say he proved adept at – he's found it. Liuping wants to make his luxury division "a new noble brand - the best in China and famous around the world." Part of those plans, apparently, include a modern take on the CA770 (the CA770-inspired L9 is pictured above) developed with help from FAW-funded Chinese electric-car startup Byton.

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