SsangYong could bring electric SUV to Australia
SsangYong has lofty plans to be a top 15 car brand in the next five years.
Adopting quickly to the Australian market and adjusting its lineup to be where sales are strong – dual-cab utes and SUVs – SsangYong says new crossovers and an electric SUV will help it achieve that goal.
Included in the plan is a new mid-size SUV to arrive in 2019, an electric mid-size SUV in 2020, and an all-new Rexton large SUV and new Tivoli small SUV just before 2021 hits.
SsangYong already previewed what its electric future might look like earlier this year at the Geneva motor show when it unveiled the e-SIV SUV Concept. All-electric and with Level 2 autonomous technology, the car might closely mirror in essence what will come to Australia, with SsangYong Australia managing director Tim Smith telling Drive that the company will skip hybrid and petrol-electric drivetrains altogether. And with SsangYong's strong presence in right-hand drive markets, there’s no reason it shouldn’t come to Australia as part of its aggressive expansion plans.
“The first EV is 2020 and they’re talking about a midsize SUV,” Smith said.
“There is no serious talk about hybrid so probably we will want to accelerate that [electric SUV] in right-hand drive. We want to be part of that and the fact that we’ve got some markets that are reasonably strong like UK it won’t be a ‘We’ll only do left-hand drive only [situation]’.”
Before it arrives, we’ll see the new mid-size SUV – a replacement for the Korando that’s yet to be named – launch in August 2019, becoming the company’s halo vehicle in Australia.
“We don’t know what it is going to be called but the mid-size SUV is going to be the hero," said Smith.
"It is a brand new product so from August next year we will be doing everything in our power to make sure that product is marketed correctly and packaged correctly.”
The lineup will be rounded out with an all-new Rexton – the brand’s large four-wheel-drive seven-seater – and a replacement for the small SUV Tivoli.
“So that’s 2019, 2020 [when] we’ll look at an all-new Rexton and also we get a D segment monocoque so we’ve got a new Tivoli that I think will be announced end 2020, early 2021.
“We’re also talking now about a people mover so that’s in there, but we don’t know enough about it to know if it is going to be appropriate. We’ve got some pretty [high] five-star [ANCAP] safety marks [to meet] to make sure it’s got both cameras, and that’s the business case we’re looking at right now.”
But Smith says he is keen to ensure growth is both strong and sustainable, marking 2023 as a moment in time he’d like to see the South Korean maker rise to its highest position in history on the Australian car market, selling over 10,000 vehicles a year and positioning itself among the top 15 brands.
“In 2023 [we could be top 15], it’s not out of the question. I’ve got to have a robust dealer network by then with between 60 and 70 dealers. I’m pretty keen to make sure that everything is sustainable and growing too quickly has its own pitfalls. We’re trying to make sure we grow appropriately and understand what limitations there are if we do grow too quickly.”
Alex Rae is Drive’s Melbourne based reporter with over 10 years’ experience in the automotive industry as a photographer and journalist. Having studied both engineering and the arts, Alex understands what makes things tick while appreciating that sometimes it’s all about form over matter…