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Ssangyong Motor exports to set milestone this year

Ssangyong Motor showcases the Korando C, a sport utility vehicle, during an unveiling event at a hotel in Beijing on Sept. 23. (Ssangyong Motor Co.)
Ssangyong Motor showcases the Korando C, a sport utility vehicle, during an unveiling event at a hotel in Beijing on Sept. 23. (Ssangyong Motor Co.)
Carmaker projects exports to reach 63,169 units in Jan.-Oct. period


Ssangyong Motor is projected to post record export performance this year, taking the lead in the growth of overseas sales among carmakers in Korea.

The company saw its exports reach 63,169 units for the first 10 months of 2011, up 61.3 percent from 39,158 units over the corresponding period a year earlier.

Company executives predict that exports per annum will come to 75,000 units this year. The carmaker’s current record-high figure in yearly exports is 65,521 units, which was set in 2005.

Ssangyong posted exports, including complete-knock-down units, of more than 6,000 units for the seventh consecutive month.

“Our robust export performance is attributable to the growing popularity of the Korando C, a small-sized sport utility vehicle, in the overseas markets such as China and Russia,” the company said in a statement.

Under the contract with a major vehicle dealer in China in June 2011, Ssangyong plans to export about 30,000 units to the Chinese market by 2013.

Both parties also agreed to increase the number of Ssangyong dealerships in China to 150 over the next two years.

For Russia, it has signed a contract with a dealer in June 2010 to export about 160,000 units by 2017.

Aside from the emerging markets, the carmaker signed a memorandum of understanding with a British dealer, Bassadone Automotive Ltd., on increasing the number of dealerships in the United Kingdom to around 130.

It aims to increase yearly exports to the U.K. up to 5,000 units by 2013.

Its other main export targets are Finland, Lithuania, Moldova, Lybia, Egypt, Nigeria, Guatemala, Panama, Ecuador, Vietnam and Indonesia.

“We are considering increasing the number of export target countries to 100 by 2013 and to 110 by 2016,” a company spokesman said.

Ssangyong has been closely coordinating with its majority shareholder Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., in strengthening its overseas sales network and advance into fast growing emerging markets.

To begin with, the carmaker plans to commence using India-based Mahindra’s existing network in South Africa by March 2012.

Mahindra & Mahindra and Ssangyong are looking for joint-marketing opportunities in emerging markets. They regard Africa as the next frontier for automotive growth.

Company executives said Africa was comprised of very diverse markets that range from the mature market of South Africa to the rapidly expanding ones of oil-rich nations.

With Mahindra’s assistance, Ssangyong is poised to move to local assembly lines of its vehicles in India and Egypt.

For the Korean market, the automaker has set the goal of pulling up its market share in the SUV segment to 20 percent within five years, from the current 14 percent.

The automaker unveiled the local market share target during its “new vision declaration ceremony 2011” last September.

It has the goal of achieving 4 trillion won in yearly revenue with yearly sales of 160,000 vehicles by 2013.

It also established “Aspiration 2016,” under which it plans to sell 300,000 vehicles, recording sales revenues of 7 trillion won by 2016.

Ssangyong said it would expand its sales infrastructure in Korea and is seeking a way to establish a domestic hire-purchase finance company.

With these and other marketing and brand initiatives, the carmaker is targeting 20 percent of the local SUV market, executives said.

To accomplish the goal, Ssangyong is moving to launch five facelift models by 2013 and four completely new models by 2016. The company also said it would develop and launch electric vehicles.

“We have taken a giant step in the march toward reclaiming Ssangyong’s rightful place as a key player in the global automotive community,” company chairman Pawan Goenka has said.

“The goal we have set may be challenging, but given the tenacity and determination of the Ssangyong team, I am sure we will achieve it,” CEO Lee Yoo-il said.

Ssangyong and Mahindra also said they would cooperate across the value chain, especially in R&D, product development, purchasing and sales to generate economies of scale for mutual benefit that significantly enhance cost competitiveness.

“In addition, we will implement strategies for targeted reductions in engineering, production and warranty costs using innovation as a key driver,” a spokesman said.

He said the new vision is to become the “most innovative and respected Korean automotive company.”

The Korando C, which could also be classified as a crossover utility vehicle, is the fourth generation of the model as the longest surviving SUV model in the Korean market.

It is equipped with a 2.0 liter diesel engine with 181 horsepower and fuel economy of 17.6 kilometers per liter when driving on two-wheel drive with manual transmission, and 16.4 kilometers on four-wheel drive.

Last July, Ssangyong Motor unveiled the new Chairman W in the local market more than three years after it launched the Chairman W in February 2008.

The carmaker pledged to closely compete with global automakers in sales of premium luxury sedans. Its prices range between 57 million won ($49,000) and 107 million won.

The new Chairman W has three trims ― CW600 equipped with a 3.2-liter engine, CW700 with a 3.6-liter engine and V8 5000 that comes with a 5-liter engine. The 3.2-liter engine produces maximum horsepower of 225 and maximum torque of 30.2 kilogram-meters.

The premium luxury sedan also features auto-leveling headlamps and all-wheel drive system (4 Tronic).

It is also fitted with a large number of high-tech safety features including a tire pressure monitoring system, brake assist system and a set of 10 airbags.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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