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SsangYong Korando C set for Australia

Still coming: The SsangYong Korando C will be pivotal to the Korean brand's future in Australia.

New compact SUV hero model set to resuscitate SsangYong by end of 2010

6 Jul 2010

SSANGYONG importer Sime Darby plans to launch the SsangYong Korando C compact SUV in Australia by Christmas, despite a lingering cloud over the financially stricken South Korean company.

Sime Darby managing director Rob Dommerson said he expected the Korando C to arrive locally in the fourth quarter of this year.

He said development of Korando C – SsangYong’s first monocoque-bodied SUV that was originally code-named C200 – had slowed while the company awaited a decision on which cashed-up suitor would be chosen to take control – an announcement expected in August.

“They are still talking (Korando C launch) in the fourth quarter,” he said.

“We’re not exactly sure when in the fourth quarter – one of the issues is that they want to get the M and A (merger and acquisition) partner on board, and clearly they need cash to do that and a partner will want to be involved.

“They would want to maximise their participation in the global launch. That’s why we don’t have a final date, but it will be in Australia by the end of the year.”

28 center imageThe Korando C is a vital new ‘hero’ model for the brand, according to marketing manager Steven Thomas.

The Korando C has a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with an Australian-made Drive Systems International six-speed auto or manual transmission and all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. A 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine is in development but is at least 12 months away.

Sime Darby says it will consider the petrol model, even though it will conflict with its We Live Diesel marketing philosophy.

The productioon version of the all-important new model was unveiled at the Busan motor show in Korea in April, and is little changed from the concept shown at motor shows in Asia and Europe over the past 12 months.

It has no links with the previous Korando, which never sold well in Australia and was discontinued in 2007.

Sime Darby has received 17 franchise applications fro dealerships, five of which have been approved. The dealer group lost 13 dealers through the global financial crisis but with the recent engagements, the network is back to 35 dealers.

Sime Darby acquired the local distributorship in November 2008, and by January 2009, SsangYong was in receivership.

For the rest of 2009, the company was under bankruptcy protection and under threat of liquidation. It also experienced industrial action during this period, and the combined effect put the brand in limbo and Sime Darby out of pocket to the tune of several million dollars to keep the brand afloat here.

Local sales slid from 2123 units in 2007 to 1372 in 2008 and then to 1054 in 2009. This downward trend began well before the Korean problems. The brand achieved 2645 sales in 2005.

This year, Sime Darby expects to reach 2000 sales – although just 596 units were sold to the end of June – and with Korando C and updated Actyon Sports ute next year expects it will reach a 5000 sales target in 2011.

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