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SsyangYong preparing for assault on US market

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 09 Mac 2016

SOUTH Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor Co, owned by India’s Mahindra & Mahindra, is preparing for amake or breakforay into the US market under a new company name as early as 2019, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

It is the first time CEO Choi Johng-sik has put a timeframe on Ssangyong Motor’s long-planned entry into the United States, as South Korea’s number four car maker tries to expand overseas to help offset a slump in its key export market Russia.

But Choi’s comments appear to contradict those of Mahindra Executive Director Pawan Goenka, who told Reuters a US entry wassomewhat on the back burner”, with the priority instead being plans to build Ssangyong vehicles in China.

It is true that there are many concerns about the U.S. entry,” Choi told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the company’s Tivoli Air compact SUV.

We think the US project will make or break our company. So we’ll have full discussions with Mahindra,” beliau berkata, adding that a final decision on the date had not been made.

The company had three to four years to prepare for the entry, slated for late 2019 or early 2020 with the launch of its mid-sized SUV SIV-2, Choi said. It was also preparing to change its name to coincide with the move.

Mahindra rescued Ssangyong from near-insolvency in 2011, acquiring a stake of just over 70 peratus, but the car maker has since struggled to break even.

Choi said Ssangyong Motor, which focuses on sport utility vehicles (SUV), was also in talks with several Chinese firms to make vehicles on the mainland. He cited Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd , Chery Automobile Co Ltd and an unidentified military truck maker in Xian, dalam kalangan yang lain.

Ssangyong, which currently has a sole factory in South Korea, wanted to boost its total production capacity to about 500,000 vehicles a year by making cars in China and Russia. Both countries imposed high tariffs on auto imports.

Ssangyong aimed to swing to a profit this year, Choi said, which would be its first annual operating profit since 2007.

The newly revealed Tivoli Air has a simple wing-shaped grille and headlamps with a barbell-shaped front bumper.

A Ssangyong official emphasized that the model is 71.1 percent outfitted with high-tension steel plating to secure driver’s safety in case of an accident.

Unlike most other mid-size SUVs in the segment, the Tivoli Air also offers a four-wheel drive (4WD) option. All Tivoli Air models mount a 1.6-litre e-XDi V4 diesel engine that produces maximum torque of 30.6 kg-m and 115 horsepower coupled to an AISIN’s six-speed transmission.

It comes in three different options _ manual and automatic two-wheel drive (2WD) and automatic 4WD model.

Ssangyong sold nearly 64,000 Tivolis at home and abroad last year, the best annual performance ever among the company’s models.

The company aims to sell a total of 95,000 Tivolis and Tivoli Airs across the world including 20,000 Tivoli Airs at home,” said an official.

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