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SsangYong saga nearly over! Buyer to be selected for Korea's number-three car brand in mid-October - with EV-only future likely: report

The future of SsangYong will be decided in the coming weeks.

The surprisingly engrossing saga that has been the fate of Korea’s number-three automotive brand, financially troubled SsangYong, is reportedly coming to an end soon.

Speaking to The Korea Herald, an Ernst & Young Hanyoung official said: “We are planning to announce the selection of a preferred bidder for SsangYong around October 12, after thoroughly reviewing the bidders’ funding plans to acquire SsangYong.”

The local publication added that once the preferred bidder is selected alongside a secondary, SsangYong and its bankruptcy court-appointed accounting firm, Ernst & Young Hanyoung, will conduct a two-week due diligence before finalising the deal in November.

As reported, SsangYong’s future has been hanging in the balance since its current parent company, Mahindra & Mahindra, failed to attract an investor, leading to it being placed under receivership – for the second time in its history – in April.

So, who is in the running to be SsangYong’s new parent company? Well, several bidders have come forward in the past six months, buy a consortium led by Edison Motors, a commercial vehicle manufacturer that specialises in buses, is shaping up as a strong fit.

The consortium has plans to setup a purpose-built company to raise the 800 billion won to one trillion won ($AU940 million to $AU1.17 billion) need to buy SsangYong, and then increase capital in 2022 by issuing new shares for a turnaround within three to five years.

Edison Motors already has experience manufacturing electric buses and trucks, so it aims to shift SsangYong’s focus from SUVs and utes with internal-combustion engines to electric vehicles (EVs) in the next decade.

SsangYong has already confirmed its EV plans, with its first zero-emissions model, the Korando e-Motion mid-size SUV, due to go on sale in Europe before the end of 2021, while another all-electric SUV, codenamed J100, is set for next year, with a related ute will follow.

Time will tell what happens, but SsangYong did announce plans to shutter its only vehicle assembly plant in July, with its sale to help fund the construction of an all-new EV-specific factory, which will also be located in the Pyongtaek area.

Needless to say, SsangYong believes it has a long-term future and is already making big moves towards it, but next month’s selection of a preferred bidder will be critical. Stay tuned.