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THE newly formed SsangYong Motors Australia has announced the appointment of former Haval and Great Wall Motors Australia and New Zealand executive Tim Smith as its managing director.

As previously reported, SsangYong’s former Australian importer Ateco Automotive dropped the brand from its roster in late 2016 and the South Korean manufacturer has since set up its own factory-backed operation, based in Melbourne, that becomes an official local business this month.

New start: Tim Smith is the first key executive to be announced under SsangYong’s factory-backed Australian operation.

SsangYong plans to relaunch the brand in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, and the line-up will include the Tivoli small SUV, the longer wheelbase Tivoli XLV SUV, Rexton large SUV and a new-generation version of the ladder-frame Musso pick-up.

The company has since confirmed that the model range will be “loaded” with features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Mr Smith started his new role with SsangYong on June 11 this year after moving across from Haval/Great Wall where he had been since May 2014.

He was one of the first people hired as part of Haval/Great Wall’s factory-backed introduction to the Australian market, holding the role of chief marketing officer for the Chinese manufacturer.

Light-commercial vehicle specialist Great Wall was also previously under the Ateco Automotive umbrella in Australia and New Zealand, but a bitter dispute between Ateco and the Chinese parent company dragged out and put a stop to the company’s sales Down Under until it relaunched in September 2016.

SsangYong Motor Company executive director of export markets Dan Rim said in a statement that Mr Smith’s prior experience would ensure he succeeded in the new role.

“With Tim’s extensive experience in building brands and network, we believe he will be very instrumental in relaunching our brand in Australia with customer centric focus,” Mr Rim said.

Prior to Haval/Great Wall, Mr Smith was the national network development manager for Kia Motors Australia for a year and was with the company in a variety of roles from late 2008.

Prior to Kia, Mr Smith was a financial analyst with various companies from the late 1990s until he was Subaru Australia’s senior market analyst from 2006 to 2008.

SsangYong sales started to slow in Australia in 2016 after Ateco dropped the brand, diving from 1000 units in 2015 to 371 a year later.

Prior to being imported by Ateco, SsangYong was distributed by Sime Darby until 2012.

By Tim Nicholson