Ask a friend or a member of your family if they’ve ever heard of SsangYong. We’d be happy to bet a fair slice of Baggot’s weekly pay packet that not many of them will admit to knowing it’s the name of a manufacturer, let alone that it’s Korea’s oldest brand of car.
So there’s some work to be done. But it WILL be done. The number of dealers is on the increase. There’s a TV ad campaign coming. And with the new Tivoli, there’s a car they reckon will make a real difference.
Paul Williams is the straight-talking CEO of SsangYong Motor UK. And he reckons we’re seeing a pivotal time for the company. ‘I’m fortunate enough to have seen the long-range product plans until 2020, and we are entirely confident that the long-term development of our brand is going to be there.’ He says. “This is why we are convincing more and more dealers to be joining us. At the start of the Geneva show we had 58, by the end of the first week of the show we had 60, and we aim to have approximately 75 by the end of the year. Why approximately? Because it may be 68, it may be 73, it may be 77, as ultimately we recruit dealers based on their attitude. It doesn’t matter about location, or if they have perfect premises, or if they come up with the right answers, it’s all about attitude. And I’m really serious about that.
‘Our dealers are all individuals, they’re all entrepreneurial. Most of our dealers have very strong used-car operations. Attitude is so important. You can do everything with it, and you can do nothing without it.
‘Awareness is our biggest problem in the UK. But if you were a dealer and I were to present you with an opportunity of a specialist SUV crossover brand, a firm that’s been around for more than 60 years, the cars cost 20 per cent less than Hyundai or Kia, with a better warranty than either of them, would you be interested… we have a light-touch relationship with dealers and oh, and by the way, it’ll cost you only ten grand to get involved… and the answer would be yes.
‘Last year we sold 1,800 cars retail, and this year we’ll do something between 3,500 and 4,000. We can get ourselves to 10,000 and 15,000 units, and that number shared between 70 dealers will be a really canny business for them and a very good business for us. In ten years a lot of people will have heard of SsangYong. We’re that car with a funny name that starts with Ss and has a capital Y in the middle.’
For more information on the SsangYong Tivoli please click here