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SOUTH KOREA: Green shoots of recovery start to show at Ssangyong

By just-auto.com editorial team | 22 February 2011

Ssangyong Motors has launched its first new vehicle in three years, the Korando C compact SUV.

The company has hit serious financial problems since the launch of the Chairman W luxury sedan in early 2008 which pushed the carmaker to the brink of collapse.

It entered court receivership in February 2009 and suffered a sit-in strike which lasted more than two months, a protest by employees made redundant as part of the company’s revival plans. Ssangyong is now in the final stages of completing the takeover by India’s Mahindra and Mahindra.

First introduced in 1974, the name Korando, short for Korea Can Do, is the country’s longest surviving name for an SUV. The company’s co-court receivership manager Lee Yoo-il said that with the launch of the new model Ssangyong has gained not only the means to stabilise the company but the means to grow.

He added: “The company will strengthen cooperation with Mahindra and by entering the Indian market, we will be born again as a global company.”

This year, the company aims to sell 20,000 Korando Cs in Korea with a further 25,000 going for export. From 2012, the company hopes to raise the global sales figure to 60,000 units.

The new model is equipped with a newly developed 181hp, 2-litre diesel engine and is available with either a 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. It is also available in either two- or four-wheel-drive.

The two-wheel drive version of the vehicle manages 17.6 kilometers per liter with manual transmission, and 15 kilometers per liter with automatic transmission.

Lee said that Ssangyong and Mahindra have agreed to focus on five main objectives this year.

“First, they will address the company’s financial difficulties. Secondly, efforts will be made to maximize the synergy effect between the two firms.

“(Mahindra) Will reinforce R&D personnel, and as Ssangyong’s brand image has been damaged during the troubles, the companies will focus on addressing the problem, and finally Mahindra will introduce a performance-based compensation system.”

Lee also said that Ssangyong and Mahindra have agreed to keep the Ssangyong name going as the brand is recognised in global markets.

The company added that it also has plans for smaller passenger cars and will collaborate with Mahindra to develop these in order to keep pace with the need to reduce emissions.