GENEVA – Korean automaker SsangYong plans to launch sales in the United States as part of its ambitious global growth plans. The company also expects Europe to be its largest export market in 2011, company chairman Yoo Lee told Automotive News Europe.
Lee said SsangYong "aims to sell 120,000 units globally this year", with volume "doubling to 240,000 in two to three years".
Europe will be SsangYong's largest export market in 2011 with estimated 15,000 sales, according to Lee. "Our long term goal for Europe is to sell more than 30,000 units," Lee added.
SsangYong's biggest European markets are Spain, Germany, Benelux, Switzerland and France.
SsangYong has 800 dealers and 18 distributors in Europe. "But we want to expand our European network to more than 1,000 dealers," Lee said in an interview at the Geneva auto show.
Lee said the automaker plans to enter the U.S. market within five years. "We still need time to fulfill all strict emission and safety regulations," he said.
SsangYong sees a sales potential of up to 20,000 units per year in the U.S. entering the market in "two-to-three years from now – but within five years at the latest," Lee said.
SsangYong will continue to concentrate its product offerings on SUVs. The automaker will introduce the SUT1 sport utility truck, which was shown last week in Geneva in concept form, in Europe and other markets next year.
SsangYong plans to sell 1,000 units in Germany this year, the company's new Germany boss Ulrich Mehling told Automotive News Europe. "In the mid-term I see a potential of 3,000 cars," he said.
SsangYong vehicles are currently sold through 26 independent dealers in Germany. "By the year's end it will be 60 to 70 and in the mid-term we should have 150 dealer outlets," Mehling said.
SsangYong does not plan to build new plants abroad. Instead it aims to fully utilize its annual plant capacity of 240,000 units in Korea.
Mahindra & Mahindra, India's largest manufacturer of sport-utility vehicles and tractors, last month completed the purchase of a 70 percent stake in SsangYong.