[THE INVESTOR] SsangYong Motor, owned by Indian auto giant Mahindra & Mahindra, on April 25 said it aims to sell 20,000 units of its new large G4 Rexton sport utility vehicle in Korea this year.
“This year, we plan to sell 20,000 units of G4 Rexton, taking into account that sales will begin in May,” Maing Jin-soo, marketing manager of SsangYong, told reporters at a press event held in Seoul. “Next year, we are confident of selling 30,000 units.”
The G4 Rexton made its world premiere at the Seoul Auto Show on March 30, with Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra in attendance.
Mahindra pinned high hopes on the G4 Rexton, saying the new car signals the “return of the King” in the SUV segment.
The automaker began receiving preorders on April 14, with delivery starting on May 1. The G4 Rexton is priced from 33.5 million won (US$29,678) to 45.1 million won depending on the trim level.
Below is the full transcript to some of the key questions and answers at the press conference.
Q: What was the most important aspect SsangYong focused on when developing G4 Rexton? How long and how much did it take to develop the car?
A: It was important that G4 Rexton inherited Rexton’s value while opting for innovation. One element that symbolized Rexton was its body-on-frame chassis. After rounds of intense discussions, we decided to retain the body-on-frame chassis on the new G4 Rexton for safety and enhanced driving performance. It took about 42 months to develop the car and 380 billion won investment.
Q: Why did SsangYong decide to employ a 2.2-liter diesel engine instead of high-performance powertrain, considering G4 Rexton aims to be a premium SUV?
A: In order to develop V6 diesel engine system, it costs about 30 billion won to 50 billion won and takes about three years. The price hike will solely be reflected to the customers. G4 Rexton aims to be a premium SUV. For us, premium also meant cost effectiveness. When considering the right cost for maximum effectiveness, we decided that employing a 2.2-liter diesel engine was appropriate. Also, the downsizing trend is common in the luxury SUV market these days. Many cars that were powered by V6 3.0-liter engine have been downsized to 2.0-liter or 2.2 liter engines.
Q: Will SsangYong launch 7-seater G4 Rexton?
A: We are currently developing the G4 Rexton with seven seats, with plans to launch in the second half of this year. The exact launch date hasn’t been decided, but it will be close to the year-end.
Q: Will SsangYong discontinue producing Rexton W?
A: Rexton W has been in the global market for a long time. The car is registered in 107 different countries. We will keep exporting Rexton W and it will continue to sell overseas as the demand is still high. As for the domestic market, we don’t have exact plans yet. But the demand is still there so we will provide service to the customers while ushering the switch over to the next G4 Rexton.
Q: How many preorders did you receive? Will the production level be able to meet the early demand for G4 Rexton?
A: It has been a week since we started receiving preorders and the number has hit about 3,500 units. We expect the figure will reach about 5,000 units by the time we start delivering the cars on May 1. Considering G4 Rexton is a large car, the figure is very encouraging.
The monthly production capacity is around 3,000 units for G4 Rexton. Since we have many holidays in May, temporary demand shortage is expected early on.
Q: SsangYong has set the target market of G4 Rexton at 40-50 years old, which means the car will be widely used with family members. But the seats seem to be high, which would make it difficult for kids to get on and off the car.
A: The running board is fitted from the second trim level. We also completed developing the electric-powered running board for customization. It will be unveiled when the car starts being delivered.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)