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Market Insight: SsangYong stretches its sales muscle

Picking up: Following its re-launch in late 2018, SsangYong Australia is finally starting to build sales momentum.

SsangYong’s humble beginnings reaping steady sales on warranty, pricing stimulants

7 Sep 2020

FEW car-makers have been shaken as hard as SsangYong as it wore years of ownership changes, a financial rollercoaster ride and sales hit by periodic disinterest from Australian buyers.


But things are changing for the better. Since late 2018, the Mahindra & Mahindra-owned South Korean manufacturer refreshed itself with a new product line-up and for the first time in an export market, factory-owned management.


The product range opened in 2018 with all-new – for Australia – Tivoli small SUV, Tivoli XLV mid-size SUV, Rexton large SUV and Musso dual-cab ute. Two new models will be launched in 2021 including the all-electric Korando, dubbed the E100.


As the brand eased into the end of 2018, it reported only three sales as stock was slow to arrive and dealer network was barely established.


Eighteen months on and sales to the end of August 2020 are almost 1000 units, compared to 1040 units for the entire 2019 under much more favourable buying conditions.


SsangYong Australia told GoAutoNews that steady growth was the ideal scenario for the brand.


Its product and PR manager John Taylor said the sales were increasing based on factors led by the drive experience and then pricing and cost of ownership.


“The campaigns this year have had a positive impact on sales,” he said.


“The Tivoli demonstrator clearance in January and February, followed by Tivoli run-out campaign in March, and the last few months of our Musso XLV run-out campaign has been a real success to the point where stock is rapidly running out.”


SsangYong has also added the bonus of a three-year free servicing program for all models that has been available since June.


Mr Taylor said the seven-year warranty, seven-year roadside assistance and seven-year capped-price service program – dubbed 777 – was “certainly a contributor” to sales.


“This is particularly true with Musso as it’s the only dual-cab ute with a seven-year unlimited warranty,” he said.


Mr Taylor said the test drive was the biggest single factor in converting people to a sale.


“These conversion rates are continuing to be very high from initial launch,” he said.


“We also see a strong repeat business. SsangYong owners tend to be very loyal to the brand, though in saying that, we are increasingly seeing customers trade in from a real mix of vehicle brands.”


He also said media reviews were continuing to be positive for all models and dealers were noting that customers would arrive at a showroom with SsangYong road reports.


Musso is SsangYong’s biggest seller with 59 per cent of total sales – or 576 units – sold to the end of August.


The second most popular is the Rexton, with 177 sales year-to-date, followed by Korando (131 sales) and the two Tivoli versions with 92 sales.


Premium grades were also the most popular with the largest percentage of purchases being for the top level trim in all product lines.


“For example, in year-to-date figures, sales of the Rexton Ultimate represents 75 per cent of the Rexton model range, while the Korando Ultimate makes up 54 per cent of that model’s mix and the top trim for Musso is around 60 per cent,” he said.


“The majority of Korando purchases are in the $37,000 to $40,000 range which is Mazda CX-5 mid-spec trim territory.”


To maintain the upward trend, SsangYong Australia is continuing to simplify its product range.


Mr Taylor said it was also aligning specification across the products to make it easier for customers and dealers.


“We want to maintain a ‘simple to do business with’ approach so both customers and dealer partners can easily navigate our product range,” he said.


“The team is generally enthused by our progress. We may be small but the benefit is efficiency.”


This year the brand has appointed former Nissan and Deloitte marketing and sales executive Chris Mandile as chief operating officer.


It has also appointed Stevan Dimitrovski as national marketing manager and Ilya Demin as network development manager, previously with Renault Australia and Renault Russia.


Mr Taylor said sales were pleasing given the effects of Covid-19 and the downturn in new-vehicle sales, plus the run-out of Tivoli models.


A new Tivoli and the electric Korando are scheduled for next year but no further details on timing have been forthcoming.


On the dealer front, he said: “The key is to maintain regular contact with our dealers through these tough times.


“We have continued to build relationships and it has definitely paid off. Dealers appear to be very happy with the product and brand, evidenced by the number of approaches from dealer groups interested in doing business with SsangYong.”

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