- In the early ’90s, Ssangyong solidified a deal which meant they were to begin production of SUV’s using Mercedes-Benz technology.
- Daewoo motors, now known as GM Motors, took a majority stakeholding in the company in 1997.
- It was in 2009, after a global economic crisis and a diminishing demand for their vehicles, the company went into a state of panic.
The story of Ssangyong dates back to 1954, roughly 66 years ago. The company is the fourth largest South-Korean based manufacturer. In 2011, an Indian based company called Mahindra & Mahindra acquired seventy per cent shareholdings in Ssangyong.
Prior to the acquisition, when the company was in its infancy, it was split into two separate companies. The first being, Ha Dong-hwan Motor workshop and the second Dongbang Motor co. These two companies merged in 1963 to form Ha Dong-hwan Motor co.
The main goal of this new merger was to build and develop vehicles for the U.S. government. These vehicles primarily consisted of jeeps, buses and trucks. The company was later taken over by Ssangyong Business Group in 1986 and that is where this story truly begins.
Key Business Deals Cemented Their Footprint In The Industry
In the early ’90s, Ssangyong solidified a deal which meant they were to begin production of SUV’s using Mercedes-Benz technology. This deal was struck with Daimler-Benz, who were paving the way for vehicle innovation at the time.
The partnership allowed Ssangyong to innovate into new markets without having to fork out massive chunks of cash to develop completely new technology and infrastructure. They could now cater for larger, family friendly SUVs. Mercedes also now had a competitor in the market, at a time where the SUV market was completely booming. This competition allowed the customer a choice, and further solidified the need to continue to innovate in the space.
This mutually exclusive relationship provided the overall automotive industry with so many benefits in addition to being the reason for the Musso vehicle model to be released. This model was first sold by Mercedes but then later by Ssangyong. Ssangyong continued to reap the rewards of the relationship, long after Mercedes stopped selling the Musso. They were able to use many technological advancements in their favour, primarily engine and transmission changes, as well as many style and design choices.
Thrown from stakeholder to stakeholder
Daewoo motors, now known as GM Motors, took a majority stakeholding in the company in 1997. Only a few years later, in 2000, they were forced to sell their shares after running into deep financial struggle. It was only in late 2004, that SAIC took a 51% share in Ssangyong and they once again had new ownership and direction. It is important to note that with the rapid changes in management and leadership, it is often hard to maintain the integrity and branding that Ssangyong set out to achieve decades prior.
It was in 2009, after a global economic crisis and a diminishing demand for their vehicles, the company went into a state of panic. Their employees went on a 77 day strike, where no production was taking place and the company was at a standstill. At this same time, major controversy arose with regards to threats made against SAIC for being responsible for stealing trade secrets and technology revolving around their hybrid vehicles. These threats were never proved true but SAIC were charged for violating company policies. All of this just proved too much for Ssangyong, who was a manufacturing leader just looking for proper leadership and decision making.
The company attempted to re-grip the market in 2015 with the release of the Tivoli, which turned over a profit for the company for the first time in nine years. It continued to break benchmarks previously set, with regards to number of units sold and broke the company record in 2017. This is the vehicle that many Ssangyong spares suppliers are stocking as it has exceeding expectations with regards to price and performance.
It is with extreme sadness that at the end of 2020, Ssangyong Motors filed for bankruptcy with their spokesperson stating that the company is more than 280 million dollars in the red.
This doesn’t mean that you can no longer find replacement parts because the market in South Africa for Ssangyong spares is massive. Find your local mechanic or spares store and enquire if you are looking for replacements for your vehicle.