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SsangYong Australia chief Smith exits

New path: Tim Smith has left SsangYong Motors Australia less than a year since its official relaunch in December 2019.

Head of reborn SsangYong brand under factory control departs after 16 months in job

15 Nov 2019

SSANGYONG Motors Australia is recruiting for a new managing director in the wake of Tim Smith’s departure after about 16 months in the top job.


Now head of sales at accident management and vehicle hire services firm Compass, Mr Smith was appointed head of the newly formed Melbourne-based SsangYong operation in June last year when the factory took control and relaunched in Australia after a protracted period that saw former independent importer Ateco Automotive drop the brand in late 2016.


Overseeing SsangYong’s first wholly owned subsidiary outside its South Korean home market, Mr Smith took on the challenge after serving for four years as chief marketing officer at Haval and Great Wall Motors Australia and New Zealand – the Australasian arm of the Chinese auto giant which had similarly taken control of its own affairs in this region after a gaining a foothold with GWM via Ateco. 


Prior to that, Mr Smith had spent six years in senior management positions at Kia Motors Australia, including national network development manager, national sales manager and national sales operations manager.


He also served for two years as a senior market analyst for Subaru, having moved into the automotive industry after several years working in financial positions across a range of sectors.


A SsangYong Motors Australia spokesperson has confirmed that the company is now searching for a replacement, with chief financial officer Myongsu Kang currently acting managing director and CEO.


As GoAuto has reported, SsangYong made a series of senior management moves in July with the appointment of three new executives in its marketing and communications departments.


Steve Maciver signed on as national marketing manager after 13 years with Mazda Australia (and another five years with GM Holden), former Mitsubishi and Holden executive John Taylor was appointed PR and product planning manager, and experienced marketer Steve Dimitrovski joined as digital and brand manager.


SsangYong vehicle sales are not yet fully recorded through the official VFACTS reporting service, so the brand’s performance in the marketplace is difficult to gauge.


Mr Smith admitted in June at the launch of the Musso XLV pick-up that the company was off the pace of its projected 3000 sales for the 2019 calendar year, with demand slower than expected for the six months since its relaunch in December last year with the regular Musso, Tivoli small SUV, longer-wheelbase Tivoli XLV and the Rexton large SUV.


It has since launched the Korando mid-size SUV, though only in two limited edition variants before the arrival of the full-time range at a later stage. 


At SsangYong’s relaunch in December last year, Mr Smith told GoAuto that he was under a degree of pressure to succeed, with high expectations from Korea in the wake of its extra investment to set up a factory operation.


“It means a lot of expectation, a lot of reporting, it is a fair bit of pressure, but good pressure if there is such a thing,” he said.

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