New vehicles from Korean brand SsangYong could help boost its presence in the fleet sector as its new UK bosses seek to grow the business.
The manufacturer, which specialises in SUVs, is launching a new pick-up truck in the UK in 2018, and plans to adopt electrified powertrains in future vehicles.
Nick Laird, new managing director of SsangYong UK, believes there is an opportunity for the brand to increase its presence among business users, and its latest pick-up truck, the new SsangYong Musso will be key to attracting new customers to the company.
“There will be some businesses that buy on price, but for us we will make sure we’re better both on price and equipment, and it will appeal as a dual-purpose family car.”
The Musso is powered by a 181PS 2.2-litre diesel engine, with up to 310lb-ft of torque available, and is larger than the Korando Sports it replaces.
The Musso is currently undergoing homologation, and is expected to be the only vehicle in its class to be certified for a one-tonne payload and 3.5-tonne towing capacity simultaneously – others in the class with the same capacities are compromised when it comes to both values at the same time, with lower maximums.
It has a suite of safety and convenience features found on other trucks, and is based on the architecture of the latest SsangYong Rexton, introduced in 2017. The Rexton competes for sales with large authentic 4x4s, such as the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Korean business has benefited from investment from parent company Mahindra in recent years, resulting in more competitive new products.
Laird said: “I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of with promoting the Korando in the past, and with developments over the next two to three years, we want to see corporate sales take around 30-35% of volume. It doesn’t mean we’re becoming a big fleet player, but it will become a substantial part of our volume.”
SsangYong UK recently appointed Jim Tyrrell as chairman, who spent several years as managing director of Mitsubishi UK, and, before that, both he and Laird had worked together at Ford.
Laird said: “We’re investing in our dealerships where there is potential to work with local fleet users, and contract hire companies. We’re not looking to be on every leasing company list, but we will work closely with a few of them to increase our presence and develop a plan for the fleet sector.”
As well as the Musso, SsangYong showed an electric C-segment SUV at Geneva, the E-SIV, which hints at the styling of the next generation Korando, due in 2019, and Laird confirmed that a fully electric car based on this model is in the pipeline for 2020.
“At our size, we can’t afford to lead when it comes to new technology, but you can expect us to follow the bigger players, and the E-SIV shows our direction of travel,” he said.
“The new Korando will be good for the fleet market, and should represent strong value for money.”