SsangYong Motor History
Back in January 1954 Ha Dong-hwan Motor Workshop was established – the start of the company we know today as SsangYong. By 1967 the company became Korea’s largest exporter of buses to Vietnam and by 1974 it had co-established Shinjin Jeep Motor Co Ltd and started developing hard and soft-top jeeps.
In following years, the company name changed to Donga Motor Co. Ltd and the Pyungtaek plant was constructed. Four-six seater passenger jeeps were created, along with taxi and snow-plough jeeps, and dump trailers. In 1983 the Korando brand was launched (still listed in the Korean Guinness Book of Records as the oldest Automotive brand name) and in 1988 the organisation became SsangYong Motor Company.
In the early 1990′s, Mercedes-Benz AG made a capital investment in SsangYong Motor Company (SMC) to establish a strategic alliance and create cooperation in technologies, management and distribution. Through this alliance, SMC gained technological competence to develop vehicles employing advanced technologies and launch them in global markets.
In 1993 SsangYong embarked on producing the Musso, a 4×4 SUV and in 1997 the Chairman was launched as a luxury sedan, making its way to New Zealand shores in May 2005. The release of the new Musso SUV coincided with the company merge with Daewoo in 1998, and the 7 seat version of the Musso soon followed. In April 2000 SsangYong became independent of the Daewoo Group and by 2001 the SsangYong Rexton 4×4 was produced, utilising Mercedes Benz engine technology.
The Actyon Sports Ute was introduced to New Zealand in late 2006 and was awarded Ute of the Year by AA. Also in 2006 the Rexton II was introduced and with its distinctive styling, seven seat capacity and significant towing capacity it was a hit with Kiwi motorists. 2009 saw the global financial crisis take its toll on SMC and it was placed into government ownership. Mahindra and Mahindra Corporation purchased 70% share of SMC, investing heavily in vehicle design and development. Around about the same time, SsangYong NZ was taken over by Great Lake Motor Distributors, a 100% kiwi-owned Distribution Company based in Taupo.
2011 saw the launch of the new-look Korando which won the prestigious title of NZ Compact SUV of the Year. In March 2012 the all new Actyon Sports Ute was launched with Sir Colin Meads coming on board as SsangYong NZ’s brand ambassador. Also in 2012, the new Rexton W was launched and the Korando with petrol engine became available. The new look Stavic SUV/MPV crossover with 8 seats arrived in 2013 as well as the new look Korando. 2013 also saw SsangYong NZ win the Fastest Growing Distributor Award from SMC.
With the significant investment in the SsangYong brand in NZ combined with the appealing new models coming into the NZ market, GLMD has seen huge growth with 70 – 80% increase in sales annually since they took over the reins. SsangYong now has well over 8,811 vehicles on NZ roads and this number is growing every day with record sales every month in 2014 – 2015.
SsangYong’s range of SUVs and Utes are perfect for a typical kiwi lifestyle and to acknowledge this and celebrate SsangYong’s 60th Anniversary, a number of exciting initiatives are being rolled out in 2016-2017.