SsangYong is rallying its troops for an assault on the Australian car market in the fourth quarter of this year, with a restructured management team and refreshed range of vehicles.
Little detail of the company’s strategy has been laid out at this stage, but the appointment of a new Australian managing director headlines the ambitious plan. Tim Smith takes the helm, arriving from his previous role as chief marketing officer at Haval Australia, while it is understood other management movements are underway.
According to the new MD, the almost dormant South Korean brand has “potential” in the Australian arena, but product will be key to any success.
While the fate of the current line-up, which includes the Actyon Sports ute, Korando compact SUV, Rexton mid-sized SUV and Stavic people mover is uncertain, a brief release confirms that a new Tivoli small SUV, Rexton and Musso ute will be forming at least part of the relaunch efforts.
An improved level of equipment is also on the way with the company confirming AEB will be offered in at least part of the range, as well as up-to-the-minute connectivity tech including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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As it stands, the Ssangyong dealership network extends to 28 dealerships nationally plus a handful of service-only centres, but it is likely the network will be under scrutiny as part of the new brand push. That could include adding showrooms or franchises into key areas or trimming poor performers put of the system.
Whatever the long-term game plan, it’s going to take a dramatic turnaround. From its heyday in 2006, when the freshly launched brand frequently sold more than 200 vehicles per month, interest has steadily declined to double figures in 2016 and, today, SsangYong barely moves a single example from one month to the next.