Elite Chinese government officials have grown accustomed to the luxuries of riding around in Beamers and Benzes. Whether those officials like it or not, China is swapping its beloved German vehicles of choice for a new fleet of bug-eyed, boxy Hongqi sedans, the domestic luxury cars once known as "Red Flag" limousines—a move that's more about image than anything else. And in China, image is everything.
The Hongqi is on the comeback, the Associated Press explains, with new limos going into production this past spring. Car News China, a China-based site focusing on the country's automotive industry, says that the L5 version of the limo debuted in April. The cars largely disappeared in the 1980s, but "now Beijing is reviving the brand to its former glory as a rolling chrome-and-steel embodiment of national pride and ambition," the AP reports.
What do national pride and ambition have to do with four wheels and a ton of steel? Well, just take a look at what's been happening in Detroit. Ever since the bailout of GM and Chrysler, President Obama has equated national pride with a robust homegrown auto industry. These days, words like "powerhouse" are being thrown around to describe the invigorated U.S. auto industry, in what is supposed to be taken as a sign of our overall economic resurgence.