In the last 20 years, Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have gone from a laughingstock in the US with poor reliability and bad design to making legitimately competitive vehicles on par with the best in their segment. However, Korean automaker Ssangyong is a name that doesn't roll off the tongue for American consumers – it's practically unknown. The company wants that to change, and it is reportedly developing plans to export its range of crossovers to the US under a new name.

After a very rough patch in the early 2000s, Ssangyong sold a 70 percent stake to India's Mahindra and Mahindra in 2011, and it has been turning the company around ever since. It sold 145,649 vehicles in 2013, its best since 2002, and over half of them were exported. Now it is eyeing the North American market as its next conquest, according to Ward's Auto.

Ssangyong President and CEO Yoo-il Lee has a goal of selling 300,000 cars worldwide by 2016, and sees the US as a possible source of growth. The company is working with a consultant to come up with a brand name more appropriate for the US and is still in the planning stages for its future American product portfolio. Lee hints to Ward's Auto that the two most likely for the US are the new Korando crossover (pictured above) and SLV compact crossover that is coming in 2015.

Of course, as Mahindra itself learned when it tried to break into the US market with a range of inexpensive diesel pickup trucks a few years ago, it's not that easy. Having no dealers, no infrastructure and no technical team can be very difficult – thus far, it's turned out to be impossible for them. Lee is not saying that Ssangyong products will be on sale in the US by 2016, but he is certainly trying.


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  • 82 Comments
      felix.storm
      • 10 Months Ago
      the 3rd Korean brand to sell car in the U.S. was Daewoo...
      Ksp Ksp
      • 10 Months Ago
      Daewoo I believe was 3rd, so Ssanyong should be 4th, correct me if I'm wrong!
        hyohoon
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Ksp Ksp
        you are correct... DaeWoo did sell cars in the US.
          Awhattup
          • 10 Months Ago
          @hyohoon
          @William Flesher - but they are designed by Daewoo before it changed its name to GM Korea and engineered by GM's European division.
          bootsnchaps60
          • 10 Months Ago
          @hyohoon
          Still do but they're called Chevy Spark, Sonic and Cruze.
          William Flesher
          • 10 Months Ago
          @hyohoon
          @bootsnchaps- Wrong. Both the Cruze and Sonic are built in the US. Only the Spark is built in South Korea.
          James
          • 10 Months Ago
          @hyohoon
          As well as several "Suzuki" branded cars within the past 10 years
        The Friendly Grizzly
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Ksp Ksp
        One of the baby Fords was Korean, but I forgot who made them.
          Sahngseok Lee
          • 10 Months Ago
          @The Friendly Grizzly
          Ford Festiva and its succesor Aspire. They were made by Kia. And Pontiac LeMans in 1980s was made by Daewoo.
          aatbloke1967
          • 10 Months Ago
          @The Friendly Grizzly
          The Festiva and Aspire were rebadged Prides and Avellas respectively. However, the Kia Pride/Ford Festiva was ostensibly an old Mazda 121 from the 1980s which Kia bought the rights to manufacture.
      ravingricefarmer
      • 10 Months Ago
      i dare them to change the name to Double Dragon that'll be funny.
      nickallain
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm formally endorsing the name Kittenbricks for the US market. It's approachable, like kittens but stern enough to attract dude-bros. I actually like the name Ssangyong but maybe that's just me. The Chairman might be a great product for this market. It's basically a Lincoln Towncar. 302HP, FR layout. They will have to figure out emissions though. Hopefully they leave the Actyon Sports crossover where it is though. That thing is hideous. It's like a snake that at a PT Cruiser but where the PT is pushing through the stomach wall and killing the snake.
      Pat
      • 10 Months Ago
      I've always found their products to be awkward looking. However, a new player is always welcomed as it creates more competition and lower prices.
      imoore
      • 10 Months Ago
      First, Felix is correct. Daewoo was the third brand, and it tanked miserably in both the US and UK. It would actually be the fourth brand, unless you count Bearing Truck (which was actually Hyundai Commercial Trucks before it tanked), and Hyosung Motorcycles. @ nickallain, the Chairman is a nice car, but it won't make it to the US or anywhere outside Korea for that matter. Look closely, and you notice the Chairman is based on an early-1990's Mercedes E-Class. I can recall when Mercedes helped SsangYong develop diesel engines, and licensed the E-Class technology to them for the Korean market, with the understanding that the car not be sold abroad because a cheap Mercedes knock-off could become attractive to taxi drivers and thus hurt Mercedes sales and luxury image. That didn't stop China's SAIC when they raped and pillaged SsangYong during its brief ownership and made a Roenwe-badged copy for the Chinese market a few years ago (just one of the reasons SsangYong went bankrupt and Mahindra stepped in). The new Korando looks good, and it probably will make it here if their plans go through. The Actyon probably won't come over; it flopped when Phoenix Motorcars tried to sell it a modified electric vehicle a few years ago. The one vehicle that concerns me is the new Stavic/Rodius. The first generation looked like an oversized rodent, and it was deemed the world's ugliest car (google it if you wish - don't blame me for the nightmarish images), and the new model doesn't improve much. Aztek and Juke have nothing on this thing. Jeremy Clarkson once suggested pushing it off a very high cliff. Now, consider this. This presents the perfect opportunity for Mahindra to enter the US market-through the back door. Thanks to the massive screw-ups with their trucks and with Reva electric cars, anything beyond Mahindra Tractors is mud. I'd like to see how they navigate this deal.
        SpikedLemon
        • 10 Months Ago
        @imoore
        I'm actually surprised Mahindra didn't use their tractor distribution channels to support a launch of their trucks. Hyosung never brought in cars. Only scoots and motorcycles.
      Doug Danzeisen Sr
      • 10 Months Ago
      Misleading title- only true if one lumps Hyundai/Kia into the same basket. Did the author forget the Daewoo brand sold here for a time? It surely counts and really this will be the FOURTH Korean branded automobile to be sold in the USA.
      Mohammed Smith
      • 10 Months Ago
      Will you be the first lucky person to purchase one?
      Felipe Politano
      • 10 Months Ago
      Autoblog is showing the Rhodius (aka "the world's ugliest car") in the gallery instead of the way better looking (and possibly coming) Korando. It won't help them to gauge early reactions, I tell you. On the Korando itself: it's not a bad vehicle, being nicely styled and offering an interesting 175hp 2.0 diesel (developed in house) along with a manual transmission and awd; it's just a little cramped inside (being smaller outside than most of its competitors, just like the Outlander Sport when compared to the CRV/ RAV4/ Escape set). Fit-and-finish and dynamics are midpack. In many other markets, the turbodiesel awd versions are priced comparatively to gas fwd versions of mainstream rivals.
      Glenn
      • 10 Months Ago
      How about Studebaker? (But only if they do a CKD assembly plant in Northern Indiana - there are plenty of empty RV factories they could get cheap...). Don't forget to bring in the Chairman sedans. (Natural tie-up since Mercedes cars, upon which the Ssangyong Chairman is very loosely based now, were imported by Studebaker from 1958-1965). Names like Conestoga, Lark, Hawk, Wagonaire etc. could be recycled (?)
        Spiny Norman
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Glenn
        I understand the names Pontiac, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Mercury, Hummer, DeSoto, Hudson and Packard are available as well.
          bootsnchaps60
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Spiny Norman
          Let's not forget Edsel, Saturn, Yugo.
          The Friendly Grizzly
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Spiny Norman
          No! Bring back the Humber Super Snipe! The Morris Cowley! Wait! I know! Woolesley!
        imoore
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Glenn
        "How about Studebaker?" Good suggestion, but it won't happen. After Avanti Motors' attempt to introduce a Hummer-inspired Studebaker XUV and a fraudulent scheme by a Texas-based organization to establish a "new Studebaker Company," I don't think the National Studebaker Museum will allow it.
          bootsnchaps60
          • 10 Months Ago
          @imoore
          Sorry New Studebaker was fraud. The website model was decent looking but there never seemed to be any advances or real cars.
      Avinash Machado
      • 10 Months Ago
      So what will the new brand name be?
      rstonnerdd
      • 10 Months Ago
      Two questions that crossed my mind: --Would take about the same amount of capital and time to establish a dealship network in US as it would to design and build a clean sheet new car? --Would be is there enough interest in another brand given the current generations lack of interest in things automotive?
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @rstonnerdd
        They could appeal to the younger crowd's by attaching special edition cars to video game releases. By the game, and the we'll throw the car in for another $20,000.
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