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SsangYong on the comeback trail

The forgotten car brand of South Korea is looking to jump-start sales in the UK.

SsangYong, best known for its four-wheel-drive vehicles, is now owned by the Chinese company Shanghai Automotive and from the start of this year has a new British distributor, Koelliker UK.

Paul Williams, Koelliker UK managing director, believes he can quickly boost sales from 1,300 vehicles last year to 3,500 in the short term and up to 10,000 within the next few years.

He wants to increase the number of dealers from 60 to 100 and to launch a new marketing strategy.

“To be honest, there’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “We have had to come up with a new strategy looking at who will buy Ssangyongs and that means re-building and re-positioning the brand; there has been a completely inappropriate marketing strategy and a lack of engagement with the public.

“We are also re-pricing and re-specifying the cars and addressing aftersales and cost of ownership issues.”

First step is identifying who SsangYong buyers are. Williams added: “We are looking at farmers, builders, people who need to tow such as caravanners, horse and boat owners.

“We will also be looking at the taxi trade for the Rodius – an extremely well-priced seven-seater which also has room for luggage. “Advertising and marketing will be targeted accordingly under the strapline “It Works for Me”. We are a utility brand and that’s how we shall market the vehicles – this strategy worked pretty well in the past for brands such as Land Rover, Levi and Caterpillar.”

SsangYong’s line-up currently includes the Kyron SUV, the larger Rexton 4x4 and the Rodius.

Williams added that new models were in the pipeline. “Not necessarily SUVs or 4x4s. The Chinese owners are keen to get into other areas of the market.”

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