News - SsangYong

SsangYong changes hands

Actyon stations: SsangYong's Australian sales are down by more than a quarter so far in 2008.

Australian Peugeot importer to take SsangYong distribution under its wing too

SsangYong logo11 Sep 2008


SSANGYONG Motors Australasia (SMA) principals Russell Burling and Vince Barbagallo have announced they will relinquish their Australian distribution rights for SsangYong vehicles to Malaysian-based multi-national Sime Darby.

“We see Sime Darby as the best candidate in the market to take the SsangYong business to the next level and look forward to working with them,” said Russell Burling and Vince Barbagallo in a joint statement issued today (September 11).

Lawrence Lee, the motors division executive vice-president Sime Darby, which is also the importer/distributor of Caterpillar vehicles in Queensland and the Northern Territory, said his company had has sought to expand its motor vehicle import operations in Australia, especially in market segments in which it did not compete.

“In SsangYong we see a strong pick-up and SUV product offering that has significant opportunity for growth,” he said. “Its established credentials for making solid products in these segments, and the extent to which it does so as its specialty, is something that we intend to capitalise on.

“Its availability of pick-up and SUV in 2WD or 4WD, with diesel engines in both manual and automatic transmission is also something quite unique,” said Mr Lee.

A date has not yet been set for the official transfer but is expected to take place before the end of September.

Mr Burling, who has considerable real estate interests in New Zealand and Australia, will continue to be the SsangYong distributor and retailer in New Zealand via his Rapson Holdings enterprise, while his recently-appointed partner in SMA, Mr Barbagallo, will retain his SsangYong dealership in Perth.

GoAuto understands that all staff at SMA’s Sydney headquarters will be required to reapply for their job with Sime Darby, which assumed control of the Peugeot brand in Australia from Inchcape in 2001, when it announced the appointment of ex-Alfa Romeo Australia general manager Rob Dommerson to head its first Australian automotive operation.

Operating as one of the South East Asia’s largest publicly-listed companies since 1910, Sime Darby has diversified operations (including everything from palm oil plantations to tyre manufacturing) in more than 20 countries including China/Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and The Netherlands.

Sime Darby - which also has distributorship and dealership rights across the Asia Pacific region for global brands including BMW, Hyundai, Land Rover, Ford and Peugeot – is expected to invest more marketing capital to increase SsangYong’s brand reputation in Australia, where sales are down more than 25 per cent to August this year.

SsangYong, a South Korea-based car maker with significant investment from China, currently has about 50 retail outlets in Australia.

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