The brand is currently in ‘receivership’ in Korea with appointed court staff looking at the firm’s restructuring plans.
Rather than being a conventional UK form of receivership, the South Korean system is modelled on US Chapter 11 status allowing the maker time to restructure.
The firm’s plans will go before the courts on May 22 – D-Day for the brand – where the future of the company will be decided.
‘I’m confident that the plans put in place will be successful,’ Paul Williams exclusively told Car Dealer.
‘We wouldn’t be having this chat now if I didn’t think that was the case. There are some big, big things in place for SsangYong – we just need to get over this hurdle first.
‘I am quietly confident the restructuring procedure will work.’
C200 IS COMING
Williams has just returned from a briefing in Korea where he saw the new C200 – the firm’s Qashqai rival in all-but-production-ready form – and he said the mood there was upbeat.
‘SsangYong suppliers have just been supplied funding too from the government there, which is a good indicator things are looking up,’ added Williams.
The UK chief also gave us more detail on the C200 – the much anticipated soft-roader – which will be available in front and all-wheel drive versions when it arrives here in time for the March 2010 plate change.
‘It will be a rival to the VW Tiguan, Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai,’ explained Williams.
He added there will be a choice of a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 2.0-litre diesel unit with six speed manual and five speed auto options.
Plus he revealed a hybrid diesel and electric unit is also ‘not far down the line in terms of development’.
The C200 is one of five new models being presented as part of the restructuring plan, which points to great things ahead for the marque.
‘I would say to our dealers that there is lots to look forward to in the medium term,’ explained Williams.
‘There are no doubts we’re having a tough time of it – everyone is – but it’s not as bad as press reports suggest.
‘People misinterpret the protection afforded to SsangYong by the courts in Korea. It’s not as bad as it sounds.’
Williams added that he was confident the brand’s UK network of 50 dealers could weather the current economic pressures and revealed the marque had lost only two outlets to the ‘credit crunch’.
‘One has stayed on in an aftersales capacity,’ explained Williams. ‘And the other went into administration. But we have recently taken on two new dealers as well.
‘Dealers need to grit their teeth and get on with it. Lots of the network were on 12-month cancellation contracts and that period has just been up for renewal, which is when we lost those two.
‘But it goes to show the dealer network are confident with our plans if that’s all we lost.’
EXCLUSIVE by James Baggott