Watch This Exclusive Video :
After developing a new range of engines including petrol engines — petrol was a critical gap in Mahindra’s portfolio — Mahindra and Ssangyong are working on two vehicle architectures that will help both enter new segments, geographies and cut development cost. One of these is based on Ssangyong’s Tivoli platform, while the other is a new large 7-seater global SUV.
The compact model — an urban SUV based on the X100 or Tivoli platform — will expand Mahindra’s presence in the key sub-4 meter space in India. The second, which will take on the Toyota Fortuner, will become a flagship vehicle for Mahindra and the Ssangyong version of the SUV will drive the Korean brand’s ambitious entry into the North American market by 2020.
In a recent interview on the sidelines of the Paris Motor Show, Ssangyong Chief Executive Johng-Sik Choi said with the development of the new range of petrol engines, Ssangyong has seen a steep fall in costs. The company and its Indian parent are now discussing development of new joint platforms, he added.
“We are trying to share the Tivoli platform for the Indian market and we are discussing another monocoque platform for the D segment SUV and van, which we will use for the North American market," Choi told ET.
Ssangyong usually invests $300-400 million on a project. Through the joint development initiatives, the company is trying to reduce its expenditure to about $250 million.
With volumes gaining momentum, Ssangyong is likely to break into profit in 2016 for the first time since Mahindra acquired it. Choi said it has become self-reliant and will be investing its own resources to develop products.
According to people in the know, Ssangyong has a capital expenditure plan of more than $700 million for the next three-four years to bring out one new product every year.
By 2019, Ssangyong will replace the Rexton, Korando and the Korando pickup truck with the next-generation versions to meet stringent new regulations and hopes to utilise its full capacity of 2.5 lakh units by then. It therefore is exploring the possibility of tying up with a manufacturer in China to boost output and take consolidated sales to 3 lakh.
Ssangyong’s 2015 sales were its highest in 12 years. It is looking at another decent year of growth in 2016.
The SUV maker is likely to finalise its future mobility plan by the end of the year, which will define what role would connected vehicles and alternate fuels play for the future.
It is expected to take inputs from the electric and hybrid platforms of Mahindra Reva. The company is exploring a full electric version of the Tivoli.
"The EV is important not only for Korea but for export markets like Europe where 2019 is not too far off from the emissions deadline point of view,” Choi said, referring to new EU-wide emission standards that will kick in from 2020. “Here is where EVs will be critical and solutions like these will come in handy.”
Ssangyong has already taken baby steps towards connected vehicle, introducing feature like autonomous sensor braking in the new Tivoli with the help of TechMahindra, the IT arm of the Mahindra Group. The company is likely to democratise this technology across platforms.