Mahindra Teams with Ssangyong for new SUV
The Delhi auto show in India, the second major show of the year following the Detroit motor show, has unsurprisingly thrown up a great deal of news about forthcoming 7-seaters and SUVs which are due to hit the subcontinent.
Among the most notable news was the continued collaboration between Indian motor company Mahindra & Mahindra and South Korea’s Ssangyong.
Ssangyong SUV assembled by Mahnindra
The Indian company has come to an agreement to sell the Ssangyong Rexton in India within the next six months. The deal will see the Ssangyong SUV assembled by Mahindra, as a knock-down vehicle, before it is retailed across the country. Mahindra said it is looking to sell up to 600 Rexton units every month once assembly gets to full capacity. The vehicles are due to be badged with the Mahindra logo at Mahindra’s Chakan facility, which will become the second outside of South Korea to fully assemble Ssangyong vehicles.
Domestically, the vehicle is assembled at the South Korean firm’s plant in Pyungtaek, while the only other overseas facility for constructing the Rexton is situated close to the Indian mainland in Peliyagoda, Sri Lanka.
The Rexton has already been around for more than a decade and is based on the Mercedes Benz M-Class. The first version of the vehicle, produced until 2006, was a four-door SUV with a choice of three engines: 2.7-litre and 2.9-litre diesels, and a 3.2-litre petrol engine manufactured under licence by the German automaker. It was popular in Europe, particularly in England, and has since been introduced to other new markets.
Since the first model, there have been second and third-generation Rexton released in various parts of the world, almost all with a choice of 5-seater and 7-seater configurations, but the first officially sanctioned vehicles in India will not roll off the assembly line until around the middle of the year, according to Mahindra.
Although the exact details of the version to be launched in India remain unconfirmed, it will almost certainly be similar to the third generation Rextons which include a catalysed diesel particle filter which was designed to reduce emissions.
Rexton flagship model
The Rexton will be the flagship model among a series expected in conjunction with Ssangyong over the coming years. Just this month both Mahindra and Ssangyong announced plans for another smaller SUV, the Korando C, which is due to be released in India in 2013. Both this vehicle and the Rexton are due to be sold at Mahindra outlets.
Mahindra acquired 70%
This increase in collaboration between the two companies is hardly surprising in light of the troubles that have hit Ssangyong in recent years. Mahindra acquired a 70-per cent share in its Korean counterpart less than a year ago after the deal was approved by the Fair Trade Commission of South Korea following bankruptcy protection.
Following the link-up, the companies have announced a series of collaborations. In the short term, this means India will see an influx of 7-seater vehicles from the South Korean automaker in a market which is dominated by small-engine SUVs at the lower end of the price scale.