Revisiting Red Star: Watch "Break the Cocoon and Become a Butterfly" Unleash the Rise of Xingtai Manufacturing

The newly launched Red Star Automobile new energy city logistics vehicle. Photo by Su Linhao

Recently, the production workshop of Hebei Red Star Automobile Manufacturing Co., Ltd. was a busy scene: the robotic arm flew up and down, the AGV trolley shuttled back and forth, the data on the screen jumped, and the technical workers were busy working… A brand new energy city logistics vehicle drove out of the production line in an orderly manner.

Back in time, back in the 20th century, Red Star Motor carried the pride of the people of Xingtai: China’s first station wagon was produced here; the country’s first highly automated automobile production line was established; in 1976, it was honored as "Oriental Beauty" at the Paris Auto Expo; it was awarded honorary titles such as "Top 500 Domestic Enterprises" and "Top Ten Stars in Hebei". However, due to various factors, Red Star Motor once fell into silence.

In recent years, in order to realize the dream of revitalizing the automobile industry, the whole city has overcome various difficulties, seized the opportunities of the times, and promoted Red Star Automobile to regain its new life. Not long ago, Red Star Automobile’s first batch of new energy urban logistics vehicles BOX1 was mass-produced and delivered to customers. With the completion of the four major workshop technical transformation projects, Red Star has fully entered the state of automated production in the new era, becoming an important engine to promote the transformation and upgrading of Xingtai’s automobile industry.

■ Products have gone global and won the reputation of "Oriental Beauty"

"Red Star cars have been continuously driven from Xingtai to the national market, and have also become designated vehicles for state organs." Recalling the glory of the 1970s and 1980s, Zhang Hongge, the former chief engineer of Red Star Automobile, is still excited.

As one of the earliest state-owned automobile manufacturers after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Red Star Automobile was established in Beijing in 1960 and moved to Xingtai in 1970. The year of the relocation, the new factory began construction and was completed and put into operation, producing the first Red Star brand 620 station wagon.

Liu Minghai, chairperson of Red Star Automobile, introduced that at that time, Red Star Automobile also encountered some difficult technical problems. While studying relevant literature and analyzing advanced automobile samples at home and abroad, the staff proposed plans and conducted tests to overcome one difficulty after another.

Soon, Red Star Motor was favored by the market with its excellent products and quality, and the HX6400 station wagon became a leading product in the domestic industry. With its special chassis design, Red Star Motor was very popular in the market, and the "Red Star Technology" was promoted all over the country.

The appearance of Red Star Automobile has brought unprecedented pride to the people of Xingtai. Red Star Automobile became the designated car of the original CCTV "China Quality Miles" program team. During the national border visit, it drove 50,000 kilometers continuously without any failure, and won the China Consumers Association "Consumers Trust Domestic Car Gold Award"; represented China in the Paris Automobile Expo, and was praised as "Oriental Beauty" by the world’s auto authorities. The product has also been foreign aid to Tanzania, Zambia and other 23 countries.

■ All the way ups and downs, persevering to usher in new opportunities

Entering the late 1990s, Red Star Motor encountered development difficulties in the face of changes in the global automotive manufacturing landscape and other factors.

It has four complete manufacturing processes of stamping, welding, painting and final assembly, and has the qualification of "dual production" of fuel vehicles and new energy electric vehicles. How can Red Star Automobile be reborn and regain its former glory? Xingtai people have poured a lot of effort into this.

"We have been confused and confused, but our determination to save Red Star Automobile and expand and strengthen the new energy automobile industry has never wavered; we have been anxious and tired, but our belief in reviving the’two steam and one drag ‘and rejuvenating the’car dream’ of Xingtai people has never changed." Wang Yinming, secretary of the Xindu District Party Committee, said that in the face of the dual pressure of ensuring qualification and development, when the epidemic was serious last year, the district party committee and district government research team drove north to Changchun to seek cooperation and went south to Ningbo to negotiate docking.

With the strong leadership of the municipal party committee and municipal government and the efforts of cadres at all levels, Red Star Automobile has ushered in new hope: in April this year, Know New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. deepened cooperation with Xindu District, fully launched the research and development and production of Red Star new energy vehicles, and worked together to create a new variety of new energy urban logistics vehicles.

With a goal, there is a direction to work towards. Produce a prototype car, get an announcement, focus on technical improvement, and fast mass production… More than 200 days and nights, more than 1,000 staff, turned Red Star Automobile from an old factory with a strong historical imprint into a vibrant new enterprise.

In May this year, Red Star Automobile launched a technical transformation upgrade, which integrated domestic advanced automobile production equipment and stable and reliable manufacturing processes, realized digital control and management, and greatly improved the production accuracy and production efficiency of vehicle manufacturing. Red Star Automobile’s automation process level has reached the industry’s leading level.

Subsequently, Red Star Motors’ HX5030X pure electric van transporter and HX1030 pure electric truck chassis were approved by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for the production of road motor vehicle products, meeting the conditions for mass marketing.

Competing for a new energy track to rejuvenate the dream of Xingtai people

The return of "Red Star" is no longer what it used to be.

On December 9th, the Xingtai New Energy Logistics Vehicle Industry Development Conference was held at the Red Star Automobile Factory. At the meeting, the first domestic all-positive R & D and design new energy urban logistics vehicle BOX1 developed by Red Star Automobile was rolled off the production line and delivered to customers on site, marking the full resumption of production of the "two cars and one drag" that carried the dream of Xingtai people to revive the automobile industry, and opened a new chapter in our city to build a new energy city and reshape a strong manufacturing city.

"This car is bold and avant-garde, with a Cyber Mecha style design, high shape recognition, and both quality and cost. It has the advantage of’Dora Run ‘and is specially developed for the urban logistics and transportation industry." Liu Minghai said that it is expected to achieve an annual output of 30,000 vehicles next year, with an output value of more than 3 billion yuan.

At present, Red Star Automobile is upgrading its automobile production, R & D and manufacturing bases, and is committed to building a full ecological chain of the new energy vehicle industry. The company has clarified the development strategy of domestic new energy logistics vehicle operation and international vehicle sales "flying on both wings", and plans to quickly open up the international market through export distribution.

The "Red Star" brand effect continues to be released, and Xingtai’s automobile industry has accelerated its recovery. At present, our city has formed a multi-point linkage characteristic automobile industry cluster, with the coordinated development of vehicles and parts, the near-ground supporting capacity has been significantly enhanced, and the agglomeration effect has gradually emerged.

"In accordance with the plan of the Seventh Plenary Session of the Tenth Municipal Party Committee, we will continue to do a good job of extending the chain and strengthening the chain, continue to promote the expansion and upgrading of the new energy automobile industry, accelerate the construction of a modern industrial system, and be the vanguard, leader and leader in reshaping Xingtai’s manufacturing industry." Wang Yinming said.

Xingtai Daily reporter Ji Mingquan, correspondent Tan Xue Zhang Xin