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Ateco takes SsangYong reins in Australia

Rex appeal: Incoming SsangYong importer Ateco will introduce the revised Rexton SUV in about mid-2013.

Sales blitz, model revisions, dealer expansion to grow SsangYong in Oz under Ateco

30 Oct 2012

SSANGYONG’S new Australian distributor, Sydney-based Ateco Automotive, officially takes the reins on Thursday and will embark on a sales blitz to clear out existing stock and make way for a revised and repositioned product line-up.

The company hopes to boost annual SsangYong sales to a running rate of 3000 units within 12 months by simplifying the model mix, building in more value for money, employing efficient marketing strategies and expanding the dealer network.

Ateco’s ambitious target represents a 70 per cent increase on SsangYong’s performance this year, as the brand’s sales are already up 12.2 per cent to the end of September, putting it on track to deliver around 1750 units by December 31.

A private company wholly owned by Ateco chairman Neville Crichton and called SsangYong Automotive Australia was originally planned to be the new distributor, but the South Korean brand now sits under the overall Ateco umbrella.

Ateco will act fast to transition existing dealers to its systems, expand its dealer network and slash prices in an approach described by Ateco’s Asian brands spokesman Daniel Cotterill as similar to the first 100 days of office for a political party.

 center imageFrom top: SsangYong Actyon Sports Stavic Korando.

For example, the top-spec SPR variant of the Korando compact SUV will be discounted from the current list price of $38,775 (plus on-road costs) to $29,990 driveaway – a total saving of around $10,000.

“It is fair to say the next couple of months will be a good time for somebody to buy a SsangYong,” Mr Cotterill told GoAuto.

He admitted that the increasingly diverse Australian market is a tough place to compete and that the plan to grow Australia’s number SsangYong outlets to 60 from the current 38 will have to be executed “as quickly as we can” if sales targets are to be achieved.

“We have a lot of work to do to get there, that is no secret,” said Mr Cotterill.

“But one of the key things for us will be a smooth transition of existing dealers into our network and the development of that network over the coming year.” Once the old stock is cleared, specification revisions to SsangYong’s most recent products, the Actyon ute and Korando, will lead the charge in the New Year.

A facelift for the ageing Rexton medium SUV is coming in mid-2013 with a more powerful but cleaner engine, and an update to the Korando is due around the same time.

Mr Cotterill also confirmed an end to SsangYong’s diesel-only policy in Australia and said a heavily revised – and restyled – version of the Stavic will enable the polarising people-mover to make a comeback.

Further products are in the pipeline, but Mr Cotterill said it was too early to comment on these, as they are not due to arrive until 2015 and beyond.

In addition to existing dealer stock, around 300 cars are on their way to Ateco from outgoing SsangYong distributor Sime Darby, which currently imports Peugeots and is expected to take Citroen from Ateco at the end of this year.

Mr Cotterill said Ateco is considering dealers with which it already has a business relationship through its other brands for the SsangYong network expansion, but is also exploring other opportunities.

“Our network development people are quite busy looking for opportunities to get the sort of quality representation we need out in the marketplace,” he said.

Mr Cotterill confirmed that “almost all” the existing dealers will transfer to Ateco, with 180-day agreements in place during the transition period and long-term contracts to be formalised once the dust settles on the changeover.

At least one technical specialist had been transferred from Sime Darby’s SsangYong division to Ateco, but Mr Cotterill said most staff had been redeployed from within due to the transfer of Fiat and Alfa Romeo to Chrysler.

“There have been some changing faces and we hope to create some jobs over time,” he said.

Despite the ambitious target and tough competition on the Australian new-vehicle scene, Mr Cotterill said Ateco remains bullish about its chances of success with SsangYong.

“The model line-up is stable, there is good product in the pipeline, and everything is calm – there is no industrial action and they have revised their styling.

“That combination leads to a happy circumstance, we believe, when you combine their resurgence with our totally focused and back-to-basics approach, a formula we think will be quite successful.”

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