Just four years ago, Ssangyong was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. But the South Korean SUV specialist was given a lifeline when the cash-flush Mahindra & Mahindra of India took a majority stake and now Ssangyong is laying out its bold plans for the future.
On the back of four new products planned for the next three years, all coming off a brand new unibody platform, the company is aiming to almost triple its global sales to 310 000 units by 2016.
At a media conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, Ssangyong's sales and marketing vice president, Johng-Sik Choi, explained that Mahindra has just handed Ssangyong the equivalent of R700-million to develop new products and increase its production capacity.
The most exciting news on the product front is the development of two new unibody platforms for models that will join the latest Korando in the crossover SUV segment.
We've already been given a good glimpse of these new machines with the XIV-2 that was unveiled at last year's Geneva Motor Show and the SIV-1 concept that made its debut at the most recent Geneva show.
The road car that the XIV-2 spawns will give Ssangyong a presence in the B-segment, where it will go up against the likes of Nissan's Juke and Kia's Soul.
Aimed at youthful buyers, the XIV-2 boasts outlandish styling, cutting-edge interior gadgets and a choice between two 1.6-litre engines, namely a 92kW petrol and 96kW turbodiesel.
Further into the future, Ssangyong is likely to introduce a showroom version of the SIV-1 concept, which is a mid-sized premium crossover designed to slot above the Korando.
While Choi explained that unibody vehicles are very much part of the future, particularly due to their greater efficiency, he also pointed out that the company is not giving up on the more rugged ladder-frame vehicles like the Actyon Sports and Rexton W. These vehicles are particularly popular in developing markets.
On that note, Ssangyong has just unveiled its new Rodius (Stavic) MPV, which will be coming to South Africa later this year.
Ssangyong also plans to expand its dealer footprint in South Africa, and in the rest of Africa for that matter, where it is now sharing premises with Mahindra.