[INTERVIEW] SsangYong Motor hoping for hit with Torres in Chile
In the South American country, 70 percent of all vehicles sold are SUVs and pickup trucks. In the two segments, SsangYong had 2.6 percent of the market in 2021.
SsangYong is trying to increase its share with the Torres mid-size SUV, a new vehicle that will be introduced in Korea in July. It will be released in Chile around November — the first country targeted for exports of the SUV.
"We are very very confident about the success of the Torres in the Chilean SUV market," Rodrigo Gonzalez, managing director of SsangYong Motor Chile, said during an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily on Wednesday at SsangYong's headquarters in western Seoul.
"In our country, SsangYong has a very good reputation as a brand because the ownership experience has been very positive."
Chile is SsangYong Motor's largest export market. The name Torres is derived from the Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile. The park is recognized as a biosphere reserve by Unesco and often appears on top destination lists.
"Actually, we suggested the name Torres for SsangYong's new car," said Gonzalez. "The park is a very well-known place in southern Chile, with a unique landscape, and SsangYong has very good products that are good for outdoor activities, so we wanted to make the connection."
Chilean customers are highly satisfied with SsangYong cars, he said, especially the "spacious space, powerful engines and good performance."
When asked about rival products, Mauricio Pascual, commercial manager of SsangYong Motor Chile, picked Hyundai's Tucson and Kia's Sportage.
"They all have a similar level of technology, safety features and design, but in terms of off-road driving, Torres will be better," Pascual said.
According to Pascual, as of 2019, the repurchase rate of SsangYong cars for Chilean customers stood over 50 percent.
SsangYong Motor aims to sell 3,000 Torres SUVs in Chile. It has already received 25,000 orders in Korea.
SsangYong Motor currently exports five models to Chile, all of which are all either SUVs or pickup trucks: Rexton Sports Khan, Rexton Sports, Rexton, Korando and Tivoli, with Rexton Sports Khan being the best-selling model. Rexton Sports Khan is being sold there under the name Musso Grand.
The sales of the Musso doubled this first quarter compared to last year.
SsangYong Motor sold a total of 6,415 units in Chile in 2021, up 113.5 percent on year. It aims to sell 9,000 cars in Chile this year, and 10,000 in 2023.
BY SARAH CHEA [firstname.lastname@example.org]