A memorandum of understanding was signed between SsangYong importer and distributor Competitive Supreme Sdn Bhd and Automotive Manufacturers (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd last Wednesday to pave the way for assembly at AMM’s plant in Pekan, Pahang.
The seven seater Rexton 2.7-liter turbodiesel is the natural choice for the first SsangYong product to be locally assembled by virtue of its strong sales, but CSSB also has CKD plans for other models of the South Korean brand at a later date.
Last year alone, rexton accounted for about 80 percent of the years 1800 units of SsangYong Vehicles sold in the country.
CSSB managing director Muhammad Fadhil Ahmad said the first Rexton is expected to roll out of the Pekan plant in December and its production is targeted at 300 units a month.
“We are working towards having as much local content as possible,” he said. Asked if local assembly would enable the company to price the Rexton cheaper than the CBU (completely built-up) version, he said the pricing will be worked out at a later date.
Since CSSB obtained the SsangYong franchise in late 2001 and began operations in July 2002, the company’s success in rebuilding a relatively unknown brand into a highly desireable one has been quite remarkable.
And since its inception, it has been CSSB’s intention to eventually assemble the vehicles locally seeing this as a logical move to propel the brand to a higher level.
“The strong demand for SsangYong since has spurred the company’s senior management to fast-track its CKD plans,” said Fadhil.
“CSSB takes its role and participation in the domestic motor industry very seriously.
“We have invested a substantial amount on developing our own infrastructure as well as assisting our dealers and business partners in developing their network.”
He added that CSSB is pleased to have AMM assemble the vehicles in view of its vast experience and expertise.
“AMM has assembled SsangYong (Musso SUV) in the 1990s thus they are familiar with us.”
AMM, a member of the DRB-Hicom Group, has since the early 1980s assembled various models including the Proton Satria and even commercial vehicles.
After the Rexton, the question is which SsangYong model will be assembled in Pekan next? The best bet is probably on a new SUV that should be available here next year – the Kyron (above).
Unveiled at the Seoul Motor Show earlier this year to a rousing response, the fiveseater Kyron sits on a modified Rexton chassis.
And just like the Rexton, it is also powered by common-rail diesel engine sourced from Mercedes-Benz.
It shouldn’t surprise many people if the Kyron, being a newer model and of newer design, becomes CSSB’s bread and butter in less than a year down the road.