Ssangyong Motor, South Korea’s smallest automotive manufacturer, is putting plans in place to enter the U.S. market in the next two years—although likely under a different brand name.

The automaker also has filed trademark requests for the words “Luvent” and “Tivoli” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ssangyong recently unveiled its Tivoli overseas, a subcompact sport-utility vehicle sized similarly to the Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V. A well-placed source said Luvent would be the sedan or hatchback variant from the same small-car platform as the Tivoli.

The Tivoli will launch in the South Korean market in January at the equivalent price of $15,000 with a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed automatic transmission will add about $1,500 to the cost. The base two-wheel drive Tivoli will come with a 125-hp, 1.6-liter  gasoline engine. All-wheel drive and a 1.6-liter diesel variant will be available as part of Ssangyong’s build plan. 

Standard safety features in the South Korean market will include seven air bags, electronic stability control, brake assist, hill start assist, and seat-belt pretensioners. If extreme brake force is applied, the car will automatically illuminate the emergency flashers in the rear taillamp cluster. About 40 percent of the car’s body will be made of advanced high-strength steel.

Although Ssangyong’s target markets have been in Central America, Eastern Europe, Africa, China, and India, the Tivoli was designed with U.S. crash and emissions certification in mind, Ssangyong sources told Consumer Reports.

Ssangyong has had past technology sharing deals with Mercedes-Benz, but its recent past has been marred with trouble competing against Korean giant Hyundai-Kia Automotive.

Ssangyong’s owners have included Korea’s Daewoo Group, Chinese auto conglomerate SAIC Motor Corp., and now Indian truckmaker Mahindra & Mahindra. Launching the Tivoli could be part of a larger expansion for Mahindra, which tried and failed to launch a small pickup truck in the U.S. market several years ago.

Coming to America is not a sure thing for Ssangyong. Over the past 20 years, the automaker has filed for U.S. trademarks for its Rexton, Korando, Chairman, Actyon, and Musso vehicles, none of which ever reached our shores.

—Seung Min Yu and Mark Rechtin

Ssangyong Tivoli
Length 165.1"
Wheelbase 102.9"
Width 70.7"
Cargo space 15 cubic feet
Engine 125-hp, 1.6-liter

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