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SsangYong importer in recruitment drive

SYUK, the UK importer of Korea’s SsangYong cars, is looking to recruit up to 80 dealers as it prepares for the launch of several key new models in the next two years.

The Hampshire based company, which was formed 18 months ago, currently has 62 dealers across the country.

The first of the new introductions will be an MPV, set to rival the likes of the Chrysler Grand Voyager and Toyota Previa, which is due to be launched in the UK in May.

The seven-seater will have flexible seating in a 2-2-3 configuration and there will also be the option of four-wheel drive. It is likely to have the same engines as the Rexton – the 2.9-litre and 3.2-litre petrol engines and a 2.7-litre diesel unit.

This will be followed by three new 4x4 models, one of which will be smaller than the current Rexton, and one which will be larger. The first of these will make it to the UK in 12 months’ time, while the other two will follow by 2007.

To date SsangYong has only sold the Kia Sorento rivalling Rexton 4x4 in the UK, accounting for about 900 units so far this year. SYUK expects to sell 1,200 by the end of 2004. The company has several open points across the UK including London, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Dumfriesshire and Northern Ireland, but says it is looking for quality rather than quantity.

Managing director Robert Barris says: “We expect to have 65 dealers by the end of this year and we will stabilise at around 75 to 80 in 2005.”

Barris is hoping to attract dealers to SsangYong as a secondary franchise. Despite the arrival of several new models, he believes the dealer network will not grow substantially.

“First and foremost we will be developing the dealers we’ve got. Instead of having more dealers we’d like to increase the throughput of our current network,” he says.

Meanwhile, SYUK is confident that the recent acquisition of SsangYong by Shanghai Automotive Corporation (SAIC) will benefit the company in the long term.

“The acquisition hasn’t affected us at all,” says Barris. “We are looking forward to SsangYong being more financially stable and having money to develop its range.”

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