China motor-vehicle manufacturer FAW Group Corporation has increased its 2021 sales targets - particularly for its high-end Hongqi brand. Demand for its top-of-the line vehicles in China is exceeding the company's previous expectations. 

It now aims to sell up to 200,000 Hongqi models this year and up to 400,000 units in 2021. The brand, previously reserved for high-ranking government officials only, now rivals competition from Europe makers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

FAW has been heavily marketing its Hongqi models. Recently released models include a fully electric sport utility vehicle called the E-HS9, which is expected to hit the market later this year. The company's latest sedan, the H9, has helped sales numbers this year, too.

In the first six months of 2020 FAW sold 70,000 Hongqi-branded units - or a 111 percent year-over-year increase. Sales growth was impressive - given the wider 22 percent decline in China's overall car sales during the international coronavirus pandemic.

FAW is confident of reaching its 200,000-unit sales target this year, group chairman Xu Liuping said at an Auto Business Review forum. Next year's sales target will be double that, he said. Xu said the company's sales targets would be doubled each year. Xu's targets are still being finalized and are pending market research, the company said.

FAW has made significant changes to its Hongqi brand as part of a rejuvenation strategy. The company plans to release at least 17 new models by 2025. Hongqi, first established in 1958, is aiming for the younger professional market compared with the executives and government officials it marketed to in the past.