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SsangYong targets Q4 Australian return

I’m back: SsangYong will relaunch in Australia in the fourth quarter this year under a factory-backed independent operation with a new portfolio of vehicles, including the Rexton large SUV (left).

Australian relaunch of SsangYong set for end of 2018 under independent operation

25 May 2018

SSANGYONG is targeting a return to the Australian market in the fourth quarter this year under an independent, factory-backed operation, which will mark the first time the South Korean car-maker has had a presence Down Under in two years.
In November 2016, previous distributor Ateco Automotive signalled its intention to not continue importing SssangYong vehicles to Australia while still providing aftermarket support.
According to SsangYong executive director of export markets Dan Rim, the company has since completed independent research on the Australian market and an evaluation of its new portfolio, making it confident that an Australian return will work.
Mr Rim said the hyper-competitive Australian market would be better served by an OEM that could provide “initiatives with long gestation periods”, which would “reflect our commitment to the Australian market and help us gain customer and channel confidence”.
He said one of the top four global consulting and audit firms was called upon to help increase the brand’s prospects in Australia, and a number of measures need to be completed before the brand can relaunch.
SsangYong still needs to set up an Australian office, while homologation still needs to be completed for Australia. Furthermore, an Australian-specific tuning program needs to be completed for the vehicles.
Mr Rim also detailed the line-up of vehicles to be offered upon SsangYong’s relaunch, which will consist of products new to Australia, including the Tivoli small SUV, XLV compact SUV, Rexton large SUV and new-generation version of the ladder-frame Musso pick-up.
The Stavic seven-seat people-mover from the old product portfolio will also be offered, with Mr Rim saying it has “good traction” in Australia. A long-body version of the Musso, designed as a tradie-orientated workhorse, will be launched in the first quarter of 2019.
New vehicles code-named C300 and D300 – C-segment and D-segment monocoque SUVs – will be launched in 2019 and 2021 respectively, while Mr Rim said the car-maker will have more product news to announce every six months.
He also said that all of the brand’s vehicles have the choice between two- and four-wheel drive, manual and automatic transmissions, and petrol or diesel powertrains. The refreshed line-up will also feature advanced driver-assistance systems.
Mr Rim said SsangYong felt confident of meeting Australian customer preferences with its portfolio, as the former is quite stable.
He wouldn’t divulge in sales targets for the brand, but said: “We certainly are very confident about better acceptance of our new products. We are also looking at ‘confidence-inspiring’ warranty and aftersales programs to support sales.”
As for the dealer network, SsangYong has formally communicated with the existing dealer network regarding its plans for Australia and the current product portfolio, which has resulted in 27 dealers confirming that they would like to continue a partnership with SsangYong.
According to Mr Rim, the dealers that have signed on have been strong performers in the past, and SsangYong’s product portfolio is conducive to success in Australia.
“The Australian market is demonstrating a strong preference for SUVs and pick-ups for growth, and we are an SUV and pick-up company,” he said. 
“Our vehicles have some strong points of differentiation. We expect prospective dealers will find our business proposition attractive.”
He added that any future dealership expansion will be decided by SsangYong Australia, while objectives from a dealership standpoint would be customer satisfaction, dealer viability and business growth.
To promote its re-entry to the Australian market, Mr Rim said SsangYong would inform its 18,000 existing customers, as well as using the press and marketing campaigns to increase visibility. Promotion will also fall to the car-maker’s local arm.
A more concrete date for an Australian re-birth will be announced closer to the fourth quarter.

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