China’s leading automaker FAW Group posted a skyrocketing year-on-year increase in the sales of its Hongqi-brand vehicles in the first half of the year, with the amount surpassing the total of 2018, China Daily reported.

The company’s Hongqi production workshop based in Northeast China’s Jilin province sold 33,242 vehicles in H1, up 255% year-on-year.

The sales boom was attributed to the company’s launch of two models including a new Hongqi H5 and the brand’s first pure electric SUV E-H3, since the beginning of this year.

The lack of product portfolio had restrained the domestic brand’s sales. FAW said it will strive to diversify the Hongqi products. Its new medium-sized SUV H7 will hit the market later this month, the report said.

Hongqi, meaning “red flag,” is China’s iconic sedan brand established in 1958 and has been used as the vehicle for parades at national celebrations.

The company launched a customized service of ordering its H5 and L5 models in 2018 when it also saw the number of dealership stores topping 100 across China in its drive to expand its sales network.

It has developed partnerships with tech firms including Huawei, Baidu, Intel and iFlytek, as well as Jilin University in the provincial capital Changchun, to work on autonomous and smart driving, intelligent safety systems and big data mining and management.

Meanwhile, FAW Group recently unveiled three customized models in the field of intelligent connected vehicles, Xinhua reported.

Mounted with lidar, smart cameras, a multi-sensor and a millimeter wave radar system for anti-collision, the pure electric SUV model Hongqi EV has a detection range of more than 200 meters and is able to sense surrounding pedestrians, vehicles, obstacles and traffic lights.

The Hongqi H7 plug-in hybrid featuring V2X communication technology and high precision positioning will achieve autopilot driving on straightaways, curves and roundabouts and can make U-turns and change lanes automatically, the Xinhua report said.

With no cockpit, the self-driving Hongqi minibus is embedded with a robotic system that integrates voice and image interactions between passengers and pedestrians.