SsangYong is to enter the B and D segments as part of a three-year plan to drag the South Korean brand out of its debt – which was estimated to stand at over £200m in March this year. The plans rest on Indian company Mahindra and Mahindra, who are in the final stages of buying a majority share of SsangYong.
Vice president of marketing, Johng-Sik Choi, stated that “We want to be working at maximum output, which is producing 250,000 cars globally per year – the new Korando should account for 100,000 of those. To do that we intend to enter growing markets such as Russia, China and South America, and we will expand our model range with cars built on our new monocoque platform.”
The Korando compact SUV is the first car to use the platform, which is also the first monocoque chassis the company has ever produced. It will be this platform that underpins the new Fiesta and Mondeo-sized models, the smaller of which is due to be launched in late 2012.
A small petrol engine will be the key power unit in the B-segment car, but according to Soo Won Lee, chief of research and design, “an electric-diesel range extender similar to that used in the Chevrolet Volt could be piloted in 2014”.
The bigger D-segment car will use an updated version of the common-rail diesel motor in the Korando. Meanwhile, the Rodius MPV and Kyron are likely to receive updates, including the new diesel motor, while the Rexton will be taken off sale.
Mahindra’s involvement in SsangYong’s future is essential for the company’s survival, and the two brands will be linked closely enough that it is likely they will share models and badge them relevant to the country. “It would make sense for us to platform share,” said Choi, “and it is possible that Korando may enter India badged Mahindra in the near future, though nothing will be confirmed until we have signed the contract in November this year.”