SsangYong Motor Co on Wednesday said it planned to launch a range of passenger cars over the next five years, diversifying from its sports utility vehicle (SUV) core model line as emission regulations bite.

According to Reuters, the automaker’s top official, Philip Murtaugh, said the company, 51% owned by China’s SAIC Motor, planned to roll out five new passenger cars by 2011, targeting sales of over 6 trillion won ($US6.4bn).

“The SUV market is too uncertain going forward due to emission regulation around the world,” Murtaugh told the news agency.

“Ssangyong will expand its portfolio by adding models in five key segments to the passenger car market,” Murtaugh, who is also SAIC’s executive vice president, told Reuters.

Murtaugh was reported to have said that Ssangyong plans to plough back around 8% of annual sales to develop new models and technologies with more than 70% of the investment going to product development.

The company posted 2.95 trillion won in sales last year on sales of 121,196 units. By 2011 Ssangyong aims to sell 330,000 vehicles including kits, the report added.

Among the five sedans, two are to be developed in Ssangyong’s research centre, another two in England, and the other one in China, Reuters was told.

On a planned joint factory with SAIC, Murtaugh reportedly said they were waiting for approval from China’s government and the plant may begin mass production earlier than 2011.

But Ssangyong has no plan to introduce the Roewe 750 sedan, SAIC’s first own-brand car, to South Korea, Murtaugh told Reuters.