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Korean brand courts fleets ahead of new products

Date: 16 November 2018   |   Author: Simon Harris

SsangYong is planning to increase its presence in the fleet sector in 2019. Simon Harris reports.

Korean 4×4 specialist SsangYong is gearing up for more business sales in 2019 with a plan to engage with leasing companies, as well as new models that will have more user-chooser appeal.

Early in 2019, the company will be adding a new variant to its Musso pickup truck range, with a longer wheelbase version offering a load length increase of 40cm, putting it ahead of the bestsellers in the class. 

In the second half of 2019, it will be moving closer to the mainstream than ever before with a new Korando, redesigned as more of a crossover in the mould of the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage than the current 4×4.

SsangYong UK managing director Nick Laird said, "The next Korando will have new petrol and diesel engines, and two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive variants.

"We think customers will notice as big a step forward with the new Korando from its predecessor as in the new Rexton launched early this year."

The Korando will come with a new 1.6-litre diesel and a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and will be launched at around the same time as a midlife update for the compact Tivoli, the latter using a new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which might be more suitable in a small car than a diesel.

During the past 12 months, SsangYong has established relationships with a small number of contract hire companies to seek a competitive leasing proposition, in particular with the Rexton, that would extend to future model launches, such as the new Korando.

"The Rexton has a significant uplift in its residual value compared with the previous model," said Laird. "We'll be trying to achieve a significant improvement with the new Korando too."

The company is also expanding its retailer network and appointing business sales specialists, who have the expertise and capacity to handle fleet sales.

Laird said the number of fleet specialist dealers would increase with new recruits to the franchise, from groups who already have a record and infrastructure to deal with fleet customers.

He added that in areas where the dealer would prefer not to accept the lower margins of fleet business, SsangYong UK is prepared to sell direct to the fleet.

The company is also preparing to launch a fully electric model based on the new Korando in 2020, with an expected maximum range on a full charge of around 280 miles. A smaller electric vehicle, based on the Tivoli, is also in the pipeline.

Laird believes the brand's share of the fleet sector could increase by up to a third of its sales with the new products in 2019, and has a target of reaching 10,000 sales a year in the UK in total by the end of 2020, almost three times higher than the 3,590 units registered in 2017.

Investment in SsangYong by Indian automotive giant Mahindra & Mahindra, which took a 70% stake in the Korean company in 2011, has increased the pace of new product development and resulted in more competitive new models.

SsangYong Motor is Korea's fourth-largest car manufacturer, behind Hyundai, Kia and the General Motors division in Korea that produced most of the now defunct Chevrolet models in the UK.

While it has specialised in 4×4s, and enjoyed a lower profile than other Korean brands, Laird believes the latest generation of models will offer a pleasant surprise for those that try them.

"We're trying to put things in place to prompt people to reappraise the brand," said Laird.



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