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SsangYong on song with model blitz

Lap of luxury: An all-new Chairman is due to go on sale here in 2008.

Chinese controllers to accelerate SsangYong's new model development

SsangYong logo14 Feb 2005

By BRUCE NEWTON

INFUSED with cash from its new Chinese controlling shareholder, South Korea’s SsangYong is embarking on a product renewal and expansion program that should deliver six all-new vehicles to Australia by early 2008.

Two SUVs smaller than the current Rexton, an all-new replacement for the Musso Sports crew-cab, a medium car, a large SUV and the next generation Chairman luxury car are all on the list.

That’s in addition to the Stavic people-mover and the current Chairman, which both go on sale in Australia in the first half of 2005.

The SsangYong distributor Rapson Holdings is anticipating the arrival of new product will drive sales up from 1400 in 2004 to 3500 in 2005 and then on to 5000 in 2006.

SsangYong, the number four manufacturer in South Korea, has been fiscally related to both Daimler-Benz and Daewoo in the past. But as of early 2005, the number one Chinese car manufacturer, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, controls it with a 48.9 per cent share purchased for $US500 million.

SAIC is currently involved in a joint-venture with both General Motors and Volkswagen and is negotiating to purchase UK struggler MG Rover. SAIC built 600,000 vehicles in 2003 and aims to top two million and be entrenched in the global top 10 by 2010.

As part of that plan, SsangYong’s capacity will double to 400,000 by 2006.

"Model development is expected to be accelerated along with the new model development budget," said Rapson Holdings managing director Russell Burling.

"As China is primarily a petrol market, we expect the rapid development of new petrol engines."At the moment, SsangYong’s product line-up depends heavily on Benz drivetrain technology, predominantly turbo-diesel rather than petrol.

In Australia there are two oil-burner choices (2.9-litre 88kW and the newer 2.7-litre 121kW) and one petrol – a 160kW inline 3.2-litre six-cylinder, the latter only currently offered with the Rexton mid-size wagon, but soon due in Stavic and Chairman as well.

A 3.6-litre petrol engine is also under development, as is a 3.2-litre turbo-diesel six-cylinder engine. The latter is due to debut in mid-2006, around the same time as a facelifted RextonThe two new SUVs will sit below the Rexton in size and are expected to come with the choice of both petrol and turbo-diesel engines.

They are expected to debut at the Seoul motor show in May. The first to arrive Down Under in January 2006 will be roughly Jeep Grand Cherokee sized and use the current 2.7-litre common rail engine, although tipped to be detuned slightly from Rexton spec.

The other wagon, which is about Jeep Cherokee sized, will have a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine tipped to produce in excess of 100kW and 200Nm of torque, probably combining with five-speed manual and six-speed auto gearbox choices.

These two wagons will share the same platform but will be pitched at very different markets. The larger one will be aimed more at family markets while the smaller vehicle will have shorter overhangs and sportier styling to appeal to the youth market.

Mr Burling expects this model to become the biggest seller in the range – no surprise given the boom in off-roader sales and SsangYong’s strong value proposition..

The replacement for the Musso Sports, due here in mid-2006, is vital for SsangYong as the current generation has proved a surprise hit in South Korea and is the most popular model Down Under as well. It will also be previewed in Seoul and is expected to have a larger rear tray to improve carrying capacity.

Less is known about the medium car – due here in 2007 – the large SUV (2007) and the all-new Chairman (2008), except that they are definitely on the future products list.

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