Monday, September 10, 2012

SsangYong To Show Range-Extended B-Class In Paris

Published September 10, 2012

By Jeff Cobb

Indian-controlled Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor Co. will debut a small range-extended electric car later this month at the Paris motor show.

The B-segment e-XIV electric car concept comes from the SUV specialist controlled by Mahindra-Mahindra, which has as its stated strategy to enter the U.S. market within 2-5 years.

For now, the e-XIV – which is short for Electric Exciting user-Interface Vehicle – is a design study, but it follows the general formula employed by the Chevy Volt of an electric vehicle with gasoline engine back-up.

In this case the electric motor and batteries are packaged into a vehicle much smaller than the Volt, and it includes other innovations a la Fisker, like a glass solar roof to increase potential curb appeal for the urban commuter crossover.

Design details will be released at Paris, but the little car appears to be somewhat like an extended-range version of S sangyong’s XIV-2 concept – short for eXciting User Interface Vehicle 2 – shown in March at Geneva, and that concept is in turn is similar to yet a third tiny concept show vehicle seen prior at Frankfurt, the Concept XIV 1.

We’ve not seen more than a few press mentions for this car company here in the U.S., but it has been more busy in Europe and the UK, where Autocar (as you can see from the links) has been keeping tabs on its progress.

In March this year, Autoweek reported Ssangyong’s bold plans to allow Mahyindra to 1) enter the U.S. market via the Korean company’s products, and 2) to double global Ssangyong’s global sales from 120,000 units this year to 240,000 by 2014, which would at that point max out its Korean plant's capability.

Mahindra reportedly owns a 70-percent share in the ambitious South Korean company and Ssangyong's CEO has said to look for it to enter the U.S. market in "two to three years from now--but within five years at the latest," he said in Geneva this spring. "We still need time to fulfill all strict emission and safety regulations."

Potential sales for all its imported range are initially estimated at 20,000 units annually, and if Ssangyong can include in the future mix a range-extended EV around the size of a Toyota Prius C, that could be interesting indeed.


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