History of a company named SsangYong

The History of SsangYong from its roots to its near ending following the Global Economic Crisis

 The Fabulous 50’s signalled a revolutionary era within the American automotive industry. In 1950, U.S. production of automobiles accounted for 2/3 of the world total producing just over 8 million units in a worldwide total of 10.5 million. [1] This high demand of American automobiles around the world increased throughout the early 50’s as both Ford and General Motors produced their 50 millionth vehicles. [2]

The West became the most powerful production of automobiles throughout the early 50’s

However, a new power was rising in the East…

The Fabulous 50’s also saw the establishment of the automobile company known later as SsangYong in South Korea. SsangYong was established as Ha Dong-Hwan Motor workshop 1954. The company initially started out by producing trucks, buses and special purpose vehicles which led them to building jeeps for the American army.

In mid 1963SsangYong which at that time was known as Ha Dong-Hwan Motor workshop merged with a second company, Dongbang Motor Co and became known as, Ha Dong-Hwan Motor Co. [3]

In 1966Ha Dong-Hwan Motor Co began exporting their highly successful H7H R-66 Busesto model buses to Brunei. In 1967 the company began importing buses to Vietnam becoming Korea’s first exporter of large buses. [3]

In 1974, the company began a 50/50 joint venture with American Motor Company to establish the Shinjin Jeep Motor Co. The Shinjin Jeep motor company began production of off road vehicles under the Jeep CJ-5 license. [4] Throughout the 70’s the company was highly successful in producing special purpose vehicles and this success resulted with the company becoming a professional fire engine manufacturer in 1977. Also in 1977, the company known at that time as Ha Dong-Hwan Motor Co changed its name yet again to Donga Motor Co Ltd. [3]

The 80’s saw the production of SsangYong’s (the company changed its name to Geohwa Co in 1981) longest running vehicle model, the Korando. The Korando was produced in 1983 and was based using the Jeep CJ-7 platform license.


Image taken from, (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Korando.JPG, illus)

The name Korando is a contraction of the motto, “Korea Can Do.” [3] In 1984 Dong-A Motor Co took over Geohwa Co and subsequently all the jeeps produced by the company were given the Dong-A trademark in 1985. [4] The Korando became rapidly popular and was exported to Japan and Europe in 1986 and 1988 respectively. [3] Also in 1986, the company which was named the Dong-A motor Co was acquired and managed by the SsangYong Group and in 1988 the company changed its name again to, SsangYong Motor Co. Subsequently all the vehicles produced by the company were now bestowed with the SsangYong name. [4]

The beginning of the 90’s saw SsangYong form a powerful alliance with Mercedes Benz AG in 1991. This alliance transcended into the production of the SsangYong Musso in 1993. The Musso translated as ‘Rhinoceros’ in Korean, was the product of a technology sharing deal with Mercedes Benz AG. It allowed SsangYong to become a major competitor within the booming SUV market and became a well recognized model. [3]


Image taken from, (The Telegraph, 100 ugliest carshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2754203/The-100-ugliest-cars-40-21.html?image=16, illus)

In 1997SsangYong again ventured into new market territory with the production of the high end, luxurious sedan, named the Chairman. The Chairman was based on the Mercedes Benz W124 platform as a result of SsangYong utilizing its alliance with Mercedes Benz. [3]


Image taken from, (SsangYong Chairman, http://www.productioncars.com/photo-gallery.php?make=Ssangyong&model=Chairman, illus)

In 1998, the major South Korean conglomerate, Daewoo Group, purchased 51.9%of SsangYong shares. [4]

The beginning of the Millennium saw SsangYong becoming independent of the Daewoo Group and in 2001 the company produced its first premium sports utility vehicle, the Rexton. The Rexton also used some Mercedes Benz technology as SsangYong yet again found a way to benefit from its alliance with the premium German automaker. [3]


Image taken from, (SSANGYONG Rexton Photo Gallery, http://www.autoevolution.com/image/ssangyong-rexton-2001/6080.html, illus)

During 2002SsangYong was at the height of its success having been awarded, ‘best company in value management’ and was certified as ‘the best company for customer satisfaction’. The following year SsangYong released new upgraded models of the Rexton and the Chairman. [3]

In 2004SsangYong merged with the Chinese Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). This was a move that saw 48.92% of SsangYong shares being sold to the SAIC. [4] 2004 also saw the company venture yet again into unfamiliar territory with the 7 seater MPV Rodius. The Rodius became a popular model and was awarded ‘Good Industry Design’. [3]


Image taken from, (SsangYong Rodiushttp://www.netcarshow.com/ssangyong/2004-rodius/1280×960/wallpaper_0c.htm, illus)

The following years were successful for SsangYong as the company expanded its SUV range with the Acyton and Kyron. New upgrades for SsangYong’s current model range ensured that that company remained at the forefront of the competition. [3]

SsangYong was enjoying success as a local company that started out building jeeps and trucks, to a globally recognised company that was now producing a wide range of models from all terrain SUV’s to high end luxury sedans worldwide.

And then the economic crisis struck…

(To continue reading the rest of SsangYong’s history, please follow onto the next post, Re-Enter the Dragons)

By Parvinder Perry Singh





[1]: The Automobile Industry, 1940 – 1959, http://web.bryant.edu/~ehu/h364/materials/cars/cars%20_60.html

[2]:  The Fabulous 1950s Cars – Here is Their Story, http://www.anythingaboutcars.com/1950scars.html

[3]: SsangYong Motor History, http://www.smotor.com/en/smotor/company/history/2011/index.html

[4]: History of “SsangYong” Brandhttp://cars-list-db.com/ssangyong/


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