SsangYong wants to make India its 2nd largest market

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Mumbai: South Korean carmaker SsangYong Motor Co, owned by the domestic SUV major M&M, on Wednesday said it is hopeful of making the country its second largest export market. "This is the best possible market for us. I am very confident that India will become SsangYong's second-largest export market," SsangYong chief executive Yoo-Il Lee said.

He, however, did not provide any details as to when it will be achievable. Lee was speaking during the launch of its first offering, the Rexton, pegged in the premium SUV category and positioned against Ford Endeavor and others in the same ilk, here.

Currently, Europe and Latin America are the two largest export markets for the Korean SUV major, which is present in over 90 markets and had shipped two-thirds of its production in the last financial year.

The Rexton is being produced at M&M's Chakan, Pune plant to avoid costly import tariffs. The Rexton, which is available in over 70 markets, uses the transmission technology that Mercedes and Porsche use and comes in two versions – automatic transmission and manual transmission – with all wheel and two-wheel drive options.

The model has 22 percent localisation currently, which according to M&M president for automotive and farm equipment divisions, Pawan Goenka, is likely to go up as the car picks up demand. But, 100 percent localisation is not possible for this model, he added.

M&M has invested Rs 63 crore to set up a body forming shop, a new common paint shop and an engine dressing up floor, apart from a common assembly shop. The company will be offering two-years or 1 lakh km warranty to the Rexton, that comes with a 2.7-litre engine.

The plant has an initial capacity of rolling out 5,000 units a month in single shift, Goenka said, adding he is looking at selling around 500 units of the Rexton a month. .

"A manual model of the Rexton is priced at Rs 17.67 lakh and the automatic version at Rs 19.67 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai," M&M's Goenka said, adding these are introductory prices only. He hinted at a revision, post the festive season.

The Rexton is the first high-end SUV from the Mumbai-based auto firm. In September, when most of the players saw a de-growth, M&M clipped 22 percent, making it's the best monthly sales for the company, company's chief executive, automotive division, Praveen Shah said.

SsangYong will sell its vehicles alongside Mahindra SUVs in the carmaker's showrooms. M&M is a major player in an increasingly crowded SUV market, with an array of models like the entry model rural market-oriented Bolero to mid-priced off-roader Scorpio to entry-level Xylo and the recently launched compact SUV Quantro apart from Thar and its first international offering XUV500.

Over the past three years, the domestic SUV market has been exploding with a slew of launches. This year, it is set to corner 21 percent of the domestic passenger car market.

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