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The history of Ssangyong started in 1954 when Hadongwahn Motor was founded. It was later renamed to Dong-A Motor. The company became a manufacturer of commercial trucks, fire engines and other special purpose vehicles during the 70s.

In the early 80s, Dong-A acquired SUV maker Keowha, which made 4WD offroaders licensed from Jeep. The merged company was renamed to Ssangyong in 1986 and started concentrating on SUVs.

The turning point was in 1991, when it signed an agreement with Mercedes for transferring its engine technology and helped it developing light commercial vehicles. This is why you can see many Ssangyong cars and SUVs are equipped with Mercedes straight-sixes. The Musso of 1993 and Korando of 1996 successfully opened the door of global SUV market for Ssangyong. Later, Mercedes even helped Ssangyong developed its first passenger car - the Chairman luxurious sedan.

To produce the Mercedes engines, Ssangyong built its second plant in Changwon. The aggressive expansion led to its bankruptcy during the Asian financial crisis in 1998. The company was bought by Daewoo and its SUVs and Chairman were rebadged as Daewoo. The name Ssangyong disappeared for a while until 2000, when Daewoo itself went into receivership. Ssangyong, with its stronger basis in SUV business and the better prospect of global SUV market, received support from its creditors and spun off from Daewoo.

In 2004, Chinese car maker SAIC acquired controlling stakes of Ssangyong and became its new owner.


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