SsangYong Joins Electric Vehicle Segment With Planned EV SUV For 2019
New model tipped to get design cues from SIV-2 Conceptby Kirby, on
When you think of Korean automakers, the first two names that immediately come to mind are Hyundai and Kia. Lost in the large shadow cast by these two automotive giants is SsangYong, a company that may have been best known in this part of the world as having been saved from collapse by Mahindra & Mahindra in 2010. Now that it’s back on a better footing, SsangYong is gearing up to join the electric vehicle ranks with the introduction of an EV SUV by 2019.
SsangYong CEO Jong Sik Choi made the proclamation during the launch of the brand’s new Tivoli XLV model, saying that the model, codenamed the C300, will be offered in a number of different powertrains, one of which would be the company’s first fully electric powertrain. It was previously thought of that the Tivoli SUV would get first dibs on the EV powertrain, but the company’s decision-makers opted to wait a little longer to further refine the gasoline engine version so that it could meet new emissions regulations that are scheduled to take effect in 2019. A report from Auto Express also indicated that the model will get another variant with that model being powered by a new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that will combine to form a 48-volt “mild hybrid” powertrain. As far as aesthetics go, the model’s design is being tipped to be based on SIV-2 Concept that was showcased at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
It’s become an open secret that SsangYong has high hopes for this new SUV and it’s looking at the model as the one that could spearhead the company’s ambitious plan to increase its sales volume to 200,000 units, a major step up from the 144,764 units it sold in 2015. Whether it accomplishes that or not is still up in the air, but credit should go to SsangYong for taking this leap into the world of electric vehicles.
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Why it matters
It’s easy to dismiss SsangYong because it’s not really a major player in the automotive market. It should be noted, however, that ever since the company was bought out by Mahindra & Mahindra, it’s arguably the most stable it’s ever been. In other words, it has all the pieces in place to become a more popular automotive company.
Entering the EV market is a big step and one could argue that it’s one of the most proactive things SsangYong has done in a long time. It says a lot that a company is willing to make this move despite knowing that it would still be seriously outgunned by bigger automakers. It shows that SsangYong isn’t content with being a third-rate automaker anymore. It wants to become a player and it now has the financial backing to make it happen.
Speaking of which, having Mahindra & Mahindra as a parent company should also help the company improve the design of its cars. That’s always been one of SsangYong’s weaknesses. But remember, the Indian auto conglomerate also purchased a controlling stake in Italian design house Pininfarina so it’s entirely possible that we could see future SsangYong models get penned by Pininfarina. Don’t sleep on that happening.
Personally, I want to see what SsangYong does with the C300 SUV. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever expressed interest in this Korean automaker, but with these big moves in the pipeline, I can’t help but keep a close eye on it. Hopefully, the company pulls through and develops a model that it can proudly hang its hat on. It’s been a while since that happened, so if anything, SsangYong’s long overdue to get back to a place where it can proudly stand up against the Hyundais and Kias of the world.
Read our full review on the SsangYong Tivoli XLV here.