Mahindra & Mahindra SA has taken over the distribution of SsangYong vehicles in Southern Africa from the Imperial Group, whose contract with the Korean maker expired at the end of March.
Mahindra SA CEO, Ashok Thakur, explained: “We already have 42 Mahindra dealers and expect to sign another 10 in the course of this year. 15 of our current dealers have set up outlets to sell SsangYongs and we plan to double that number in the next six months.”
The Indian group has set up parts stock at the new dealers, with the central stock of SsangYong parts to be kept at the existing Mahindra warehouse in Jet Park; the parent company has promised a 95 percent supply rate.
Mahindra will not, however, be taking over the service and maintenance commitments of the previous distributor. If you bought a SsangYong before April 1, you'll have to take it to a designated Imperial dealer for warranty claims and servicing under maintenance plan.
STRONG NEW PLAYER IN UTILITY SEGMENT
The partnership of Mahindra and SsangYong creates a strong player in the utility vehicles segment, both in South Africa and globally. Mahindra is already the leader in this segment in India, while SsangYong has strong capabilities in technology, with a R2-billion project to develop a new vehicle and a new engine already in progress.
Both companies are launching new products; Mahindra has the XUV500, while SsangYong showed a number of new production models as well as an eye-catching convertible crossover concept, the XIV-2, at the recent Geneva motor show.
Also on display were the New Actyon Sport, based on the SUT-1 (Sport Utility Truck) displayed as a concept at Geneva in 2011, and the 2012 Korando and Rexton models.
So which models will come to South Africa?
Thakur said: “We're not announcing detailed plans for Ssangyong in South Africa yet, but you'll hear all about them before the end of April.
“Our stocks of 2012 models and parts have arrived and we're getting our new SsangYong dealers up to speed on the new models, ready for launch later in the month.
“What I can tell you is that we are repositioning SsangYong in terms of price and specification, and we'll have both petrol and diesel variants of all models.”