In a surprising move, Rolls-Royce’s former design boss Giles Taylor has joined China’s Hongqi luxury brand. Parent company FAW Group announced that Taylor will serve as Global Vice President of Design and Chief Creative Officer.
In his new role, he will be “chiefly responsible for creating design strategies and unique style concepts for the FAW luxury brand Hongqi.” Furthermore, he will help establish a FAW Advanced Design Center in Munich, and will oversee “the infusion of internationalized design philosophies into the complete range of FAW products including autonomous passenger cars.”
Giles Taylor will be based in Munich, where he will lead a globalized high-end design team. The FAW Advanced Design Center will mainly do project work for the Hongqi brand, including both concepts and production cars.
Taylor has a rich experience in super-luxury car design. He was Rolls-Royce’s Director of Design from 2012 until June 2018. During that period, he led the design of the brand’s most important new models, including the Dawn convertible, the all-new Phantom and the Cullinan SUV. He also penned the 103EX autonomous concept vehicle in 2016.
Before joining Rolls-Royce, he had worked for 13 years at Jaguar, where he was Chief Designer for the current XJ sedan and the XK sports car launched in 2005.
So why would a man with such an impressive resume join FAW? Leaving aside the financial incentive, which we assume is more than generous, turning Hongqi into a global luxury player is surely a greater challenge than keeping Rolls-Royce at the top of the game.
“I am very much looking forward to embarking on an exciting new career path with FAW. Hongqi, as the oldest and most famous Chinese car brand, carries with it a deeply significant and diverse cultural history,” Taylor said. “There are many inspirational elements surrounding the marque with which to create fresh, modern vehicles for the new era,” he added.
Hongqi, whose name means “Red Flag” in Mandarin, was founded in 1958. Originally, only high-ranking government officials were allowed to use Hongqi models. The brand was revived in the mid-1990s and started building cars for a wider audience. Hongqi’s owner FAW Group is one of China’s big three automakers.