SsangYong started out as two different companies; Ha Dong-hwan Motor Workshop and Dongbang Motor Company. It was during 1963 that the two companies merged to form Ha Dong-hwan Motor Company. Shortly after, the company started building jeeps, trucks, and buses for the U.S. Army. This was the company’s only automobile manufacturing branch until 1976, when they started to produce special purpose vehicles.
In 1986 the company was taken over by SsangYong Business Group and the name was changed to SsangYong Motor a name which means “double dragons”. In 1991, SsangYong began a partnership with Daimler-Benz to allow SsangYong Motor to gain footholds in new markets without having to build new infrastructure. The plan was for SsangYong Motor to develop a Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV, with Mercedes-Benz technology.
The Mercedes partnership gave birth to the SsangYong Musso, which was sold by Mercedes-Benz, and later, SsangYong. The partnership had benefits for SsangYong that lasted long after this one deal. SsangYong used the technological know-how it had gained from the partnership and the knowledge of the Mercedes-Benz and Daimler-Benz vehicles to improve their existing lineup of vehicles. SsangYong produced a version of the Mercedes-Benz MB100 called the Istana. They also used Daimler-Benz designs in many later cars, including the Korando, the Rexton, the Chairman H, and the Kyron.
Eventually, the Chinese automobile manufacturer SAIC took a 51% stake in SsangYong. After a slight rough patch in the early 2000s, SsangYong struck a deal with Daewoo Motor Sales to supply new vehicles to sell. In late 2010, Mahindra and Mahindra Limited were chosen as the preferred bidder out of three competitors to acquire SsangYong. The acquisition was completed in February of 2011, and SsangYong has been owned by Mahindra and Mahindra Limited ever since.
SsangYong has a wide range of models that covers basic SUVs and vans to commercial vehicles. Their SUV and ute line-up consists of many different models including the Actyon, Korando, and the Stavic which are currently sold in the Australian market. They also only have two styles of vans; the Rodius and the Istana. Currently the SsangYong Rexton, Musso, Istana, and Kallista are no longer in production, but the Rexton was replaced by a newer model. Most of SsangYong’s discontinued vehicles have been replaced by vehicles with similar capabilities and uses.
Nearly all of the automobiles produced by SsangYong after 1991 appear to be heavily based on Mercedes-Benz and Daimler-Benz technology. This shows that the knowledge gained from their one-time partnership is still being utilized very well by SsangYong Motor Company. This is a very consistent theme throughout the design of all makes and models of SsangYong vehicles. With the exception of North America, most of SsangYong’s makes and models that are still in production can be found worldwide.
SsangYong Motors competes fiercely with numerous other car manufacturers. Some of SsangYong’s top competitors are Hyundai, Kia, and General Motors. Obviously competing with these three larger automotive giants is tough on the smaller SsangYong Motor Company, but SsangYong Motor Company is still ranked 4th after these three companies. While these companies do tend to dominate the market, SsangYong has used the knowledge they gained from Mercedes-Benz and Daimler-Benz automobiles to consistently manufacture quality vehicles.
SsangYong Motor Company has been through a lot in recent years, but their recent acquisition by Indian multinational automobile manufacturing corporation Mahindra and Mahindra Limited will hopefully lead them to regaining their foothold in the Australian market. SsangYong Motor Company continues to offer good quality vehicles at a competitive price. At the very least, they must be doing something right to last so long in such a competitive market surrounded by three huge car companies.