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GENEVA: SsangYong eyes Tivoli springboard to recovery

Lee Yoo-il, CEO of Ssangyong Motors, has told just-auto that he expects the Mahindra-owned company to return to profitability "maybe next year" as output and sales continue to rise.

Speaking at the Geneva Show where SsangYong showed its Tivoli compact SUV, Lee said that the company has high hopes for the model and will ramp up production this year.

The B-segment Tivoli model has been well received in the Korean domestic market. "We have had 11,000 orders in the first two months and we are very pleased with that," Lee said. SsangYong is planning to sell around 2,500 units of Tivoli a month in the Korean market.

In the medium term, the company aims to sell a total of around 100,000 units a year of the Tivoli range. Sales of 40,000 units a year are targeted for Europe (UK sales will start in June). The company is also planning further product actions over the next three years, with slightly larger Segment C/D models, according to Lee.

"Our biggest challenge could be to have sufficient production capacity," Lee maintains. "We may have to look at adding a facility." The Pyeongtaek factory has capacity of around 250,000 units a year and is currently utilising around 60% of its capacity.

Tivoli is the first new model to be launched following the merger of SsangYong and Mahindra & Mahindra. Resulting from 42 months of development and an investment of 350 billion Korean won (around EUR280m), SsangYong says the car will compete strongly on design and reliability, safety, interior space, practicality, as well as and the availability of all-wheel drive which will differentiate it from other SUVs in the sector.

It will be available with FWD and 4WD and SsangYong expects a 60/40 FWD/FWD split. "That's higher than for the segment [where 4WD is nearer 20%] but we have four-wheel-drive DNA," says Lee.

Ssangyong's net loss in 2013 was 24 billion won, down from 105 billion won the previous year.

For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here

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