Ssangyong is planning to launch three new models over the next three years that it believes will move it towards profitability and increase global production towards 500,000 units a year and UK sales to 10,000.
It will come with a choice of new 2.2-litre diesel and 2.0-litre turbo petrol engines and equipment will include lane departure warning and autonomous braking. Prices are expected to start below £30,000 when it goes on sale in the UK.
In 2018, Ssangyong will launch a new Rexton-based, full-sized crew-cab pick-up, codenamed Q200, to battle Ford’s Ranger and Toyota’s Hilux. It will come in two different wheelbases and with a choice of two load bay lengths, and will be powered by the same powertrains as the new Rexton.
In 2019, the Korean car maker will replace the current mid-sized Korando SUV with a stylish third generation model designed to rival the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai. Its styling will draw inspiration from the Tivoli, and it will use a lengthened version of the Tivoli’s monocoque architecture, including multi-link rear suspension.
Company bosses are currently evaluating three design proposals for the model, codenamed C300, and say they must decide soon if the model is to meet its planned schedule.
Another small SUV on the cards
In the meantime, Ssangyong is also considering introducing another model into the popular small SUV market, alongside the Tivoli. It recently showed a sporty, youth-oriented concept called XAV that drew wide approval, and helpfully employs familiar Tivoli underpinnings. Putting that model into production, which is expected to be a three-door sporty alternative to the Tivoli, would take as little as 24 months, according to Ssangyong officials. However, there is no confirmation yet that it is part of the cycle plan.
In the last half-dozen years, Ssanyyong has steadily recovered its position, after coming close to bankruptcy in 2009, thanks to the worldwide recession and misguided management, first by Korean-based Daewoo and then Chinese SAIC Group.
Ssangyong’s group CEO Johng-sik Choi said the company will keep battling to recover traction lost in export markets during the 2008-2009 recession, and more recently in Russia, where sales have been hit by sanctions.
In the UK, Ssangyong’s sales have increased from a low point of 280 units 2010 to 3600 last year. UK CEO Paul Williams believes that figure could exceed 6000 in 2016, when the extra-length Tivoli XLV is added to the range. Total UK sales of around 10,000 are “within sight” when the planned new models all hit the market.
US launch isn't far off
When the new Korando arrives, CEO Choi believes the stage will be set for Ssangyong to launch several cars in the US. “Our C300 would be right for the US market,” he says, “and now that Mahindra has acquired the Pininfarina design house in Italy, we have a name that can add credibility to our own.” Choi believes that at that stage 50,000 US sales “would be conservative”.