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SsangYong  Not likely: WZ concept previews the Chairman's replacement.

Not likely: WZ concept previews the Chairman's replacement.

Korea's SsangYong plans a bevvy of new passenger car models within four years

AUSTRALIANS will soon see a much broader range of SsangYong models thanks to a global tidal wave of new products slated for manufacture by 2011.

SsangYong says that 30 new models or variants are planned to emerge from the factory doors by 2011.

SsangYong’s majority stakeholder, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), also has ambitious plans to up the Korean brand’s production numbers 55 per cent by 2011, but the most interesting shift is to small and medium passenger cars, a small people-mover and a small, monocoque-framed SUV.

All of these models are “a very good chance” for Australia, says Keith Timmins, the MD of the local SsangYong operation.

Speaking to GoAuto recently, Mr Timmins also said that the new WZ concept car, the precursor to the Chairman replacement, will not be a certainty when it becomes available to the buying public.

While the 5.0-litre Mercedes-Benz V8-powered luxury sedan would be something the local arm would look at, there are significant issues to resolve.

Mr Timmins said the immediate prospects of a right-hand drive program for new Chairman were not good, adding: “We don’t have a date for right-hand drive”.

The most interesting course for SsangYong is the introduction of passenger cars, in addition to its SUV and MPV ranges.

SsangYong center imageLeft: SsangYong Chairman.

SAIC in China will provide the platforms, with an all-new front-wheel drive small car due by 2010 and two front-wheel drive medium-size cars.

While Mr Timmins would not comment further on the provenance of the small car (other than to say it was not Rover-based), he said the mid-size sedans are based on the front-wheel drive Rover 75 platform.

Both short-wheelbase and 100mm-longer-wheelbase versions will be sold, but the all-wheel drive MG variant has been sold off to another group in China and is its future use by SsangYong is uncertain.

Other vehicles to arrive by 2011 include a new Stavic people-mover, plus a smaller people-mover, which Mr Timmins says “will be in between Scenic and Picasso in size”.

A new compact, monocoque-platform SUV is also part of the new model offensive, and will be the first time that the company has used such a platform for a four-wheel drive model. Existing SsangYong SUVs use the traditional four-wheel drive separate chassis.

Although the next round of new models are only two years away from global release and the new Chairman is only weeks away from an international announcement, there is no chance new Chairman will launch here in the short term, if ever.

Despite the wishes of Brad Larkham, SsangYong’s sales manager, to be known as “Korea’s premium brand” in Australia, the absence of the marque’s new, premium sedan suggests that SsangYong won’t be pitching to the high end of town any time soon.




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