The history of the FAW name and logo is both long and interesting. Today, both are instantly recognisable as symbols of quality, resilience and reliability, but delving deeper into the origins gives one a clearer understanding of and appreciation for all the brand has achieved.

It was more than six decades ago, under the guidance of China’s Central Committee and with assistance from the former Soviet Union, that China’s first automotive production base was born. Known at that time as First Automotive Works, the company firmly launched the country into the automotive age.

Interestingly, FAW’s history starts in the former Soviet Union in 1949. Mao Zedong had been so impressed with the automotive industry in that country that, as part of an alliance treaty, the construction of China’s first modern truck factory was set into motion. The plan, of which the creation of what is now known as FAW formed a major part, was approved in 1951. In 1953, this vision came into fruition when the ground was broken for the new company’s first factory, and in 1956 the first product bearing the FAW name was introduced.

That first product was the four-tonne Jiefang CA-10 and it set the tone for the enviable reputation for building virtually indestructible vehicles that FAW Trucks has attained over the years. In fact, some of those original units are still running today.

Much development, refinement and changes have taken place within the company since then. In stark contrast to the early days of producing a single model of medium truck, FAW now produces numerous truck models that are suitable for a variety of applications. In 1992 the company’s name was also changed from First Automobile Works to FAW Group Corporation, giving it a more modern and contemporary image.

“Here in South Africa, FAW Trucks has also become one of the true success stories of the commercial vehicle market. Continuously reaching new sales heights since the first locally produced unit rolled off the assembly line in 2014, the brand now has a 16-strong range of commercial vehicles in different body derivatives that cater to virtually every need and application,” says Yongjun Li, CEO of FAW South Africa.

The original FAW logo was also introduced in 1953 and did not look that different to the one seen on all models from FAW Trucks today. Back then it only consisted of a black horizontal oval within a thin white outline though. In the middle of this oval was a white number “1”, surrounded by thick horizontal white lines that formed two wing-like structures and resemble a flying hawk.

The use of the number “1” was not a spontaneous choice for the brand though. In Chinese, the name FAW is a combination of the symbols for “One” and “Automotive”, and as mentioned before FAW was indeed China’s first automotive manufacturer.

The depiction of a hawk is also significant as it is symbolic of how FAW flies throughout the vast skies of the world, spreading its wings, and soaring higher and farther into the sky.

The way in which the FAW Group has extended its reach across the globe is indeed impressive.

“Since its inception, the FAW Group has developed – amongst others – extra-heavy, heavy, medium, and light commercial vehicles. It has 17 wholly-owned subsidiaries and 15 holding companies, four of which are listed. The Group employs more than 130 000 people and has assets in excess of R240 billion while boasting an annual sales volume of over 3,1 million vehicles,” Li says.

“The FAW Group commenced its export programme in 1984 and currently provides products and services to more than 70 markets across six major export regions around the globe, of which South Africa is one. The Group has more than 50 Tier 1 agents and more than 350 Tier 2 distributors in these regions.

“The Group has its own dedicated product planning, development, engineering, design, testing, and verification facility, as well as certification capabilities. It is China’s largest base for the research, development and testing of finished vehicles, bodies, chassis, engines, replacement parts, new processes, and new materials.

In 2000 the logo was refined and modernised to bring the brand into the 21st century. The bold custom lettering was added under the badge in order to complete the brand’s new image and also to showcase its new blue and white corporate colours.

Explains Li: “The blue and white colour palette of the FAW logo stands for reliability and protection, accenting on such qualities of the brand as loyalty, safety, and resilience. The thick lines of the lettering make the logotype solid and bold, evoking a sense of stability and seriousness.”

The continued success of FAW Trucks on the South African commercial vehicle market can be traced back to this company ethos as the local operation has, over the past 28 years, established itself as a trusted supplier of durable and reliable vehicles that are not only competitively priced but also affordable to maintain.

“FAW Trucks might not have been the first commercial vehicle brand in South Africa as it was in China, but the local operation remains true to the original vision of the company. This includes a pursuit of perfection combined with pride in everything we do. We place our customers first and continually endeavor to exceed their expectations,” concludes Li.