Its origins can be traced back to 1954, since when it has had associations with a number of other well-known automotive brands including Mercedes-Benz, Daewoo and SAIC – which now owns MG. Today its future is secure, thanks to a 73% stake from the Indian engineering conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra, which vies with Tata as India’s largest automotive producer. The brand first arrived in the UK in 1994 with the Musso.
SsangYong – the name means double dragon – has always specialised in producing 4x4s, and today that also includes SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles). Its proposition is to offer customers real value, both in terms of price, but also in the size of car and equipment levels. Cars sold in the UK come with a market-leading five year limitless mileage warranty.
While in the past the company has utilised technology from other producers, notably Mercedes-Benz, today SsangYong designs and manufactures its own key components including state of the art high-technology engines.
The brand really started developing modern four-wheel drive vehicles for the world market in the 1980s with a range that included first generation Korando and Musso in the early 1990s. These were strong and dependable cars, and established the DNA of future product development. Since 2000, further new models such as Rexton, Kyron and Korando have helped position SsangYong as a leader in the SUV market, while giving Korea its own complete SUV product range.
In September 2010, the third iteration of Korando was presented to the world’s media, and represented a major step change for the brand. This contemporary looking C-segment crossover was designed by Giugiaro, the celebrated Italian automotive designer, while also embracing monocoque construction for the first time, marking Korando as a signification product departure for SsangYong.
Looking into the near future, the company will launch an all new B-segment car, currently code named X100. Various iterations of this have been shown at recent international motor shows, the most recent being its XLV concept at Geneva in March. This product line, which is being jointly developed with Mahindra, will spawn long and short wheel base derivatives.
SsangYong is ambitious and keen to gain an increasing share of the global market, and with the new Korando together with other new models in the range is now exporting to China, the largest market in the world, and in increasing volumes to Russia. Western Europe and especially the UK are very significant markets, while further growth will come from India and Africa in partnership with Mahindra, as well as Central & South America and Eastern Europe. There is now a network of over 1,000 sales outlets around the world in over 90 countries.
The headquarters for SsangYong Motor Company is in the Gangnam district of Korea’s capital, Seoul, and its principal vehicle manufacturing plant is at Pyungtaek which has the capacity and latest technology to produce 240,000 cars a year.