SsangYong Motor holds a media showcase for its Torres model in Incheon on Tuesday. (SsangYong Motor)
South Korean sports utility vehicle maker SsangYong Motor officially unveiled its new Torres mid-size SUV at a media showcase on Tuesday, declaring a fresh start for the debt-ridden carmarker supported by a record-high number of preorders.
Kwak Jea-sun, who heads KG Group, which is set to take a majority stake in the carmaker, attended the launch event and said he wouldn‘t go through with a restructuring of the SUV maker.
“I haven’t thought about restructuring the company (after the takeover),” he said. “It is me joining the company as the chairman, rather than KG Group taking over SsangYong.”
SsangYong had planned to sell 16,800 units of Torres this year but the number of preorders surpassed the 30,000 mark during the last week of June. The carmaker said it will sell 26,000 units this year.
“We are devoted to making Torres reflect the needs of our customers and we also put SsangYong Motor’s DNA into this car in an effort to recover our brand identity,” said Chung Yong-won, the court-appointed manager for SsangYong Motor. “In the same way we have contributed to the history of SUVs in South Korea, Torres will write a new history of SUVs in the country.”
Torres is the first car designed with SsangYong’s new design philosophy, “Powered by toughness.”
While providing an authentic SUV experience was one priority, the company also stepped up its efforts in the interior with new digital features, which had long been a weakness for the carmaker.
The Torres is equipped with a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The price of the new mid-size SUV starts at 27.4 million won ($21,000) to target young customers buying a car for the first time.
During the showcase, SsangYong also announced specific plans to release new models over the next few years — cars with which the carmaker hopes to normalize its operations.
“In the second half of next year, we will launch a mid-size electric SUV which will be an innovative model that will outpace other models in the same category. In mid-2024, we will launch a product under the code name ‘KR10,’ which is a reinterpretation of our traditional Korando model, and in the second half of 2024, we will launch an electric pickup truck, which no other domestic carmaker has attempted,” said Chung.
The launch of the new SUV came a few days after a Seoul bankruptcy court approved the chemical-to-steel firm KG Group to acquire a 58.85 percent stake in SsangYong Motor at a reported 900 billion won last month.
SsangYong Motor had been looking for a new owner since 2009.
China-based SAIC Motor acquired a 51 percent stake in SsangYong in 2004, but relinquished its control of the carmaker in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.
In 2011, Mahindra acquired a 70 percent stake in SsangYong for 523 billion won and now holds a 74.65 percent stake in the carmaker.
But the Korean carmaker was put into court receivership for the second time in April last year, after it failed to repay around 160 billion won worth of loans.
By Hong Yoo (firstname.lastname@example.org