Sathosa Motors (SML) PLC celebrates its glorious 60th anniversary

Positioned at the forefront of the commercial vehicle industry segment, Sathosa Motors (SML) PLC celebrates its glorious 60th anniversary in 2022, coinciding with its 60th year of partnership with Isuzu Japan since 1962, the most trusted Japanese truck brand and the market leader in the Japanese commercial truck segment in Sri Lanka. SML can be credited with the rise in popularity of Japanese vehicles in Sri Lanka, making Isuzu the most sought-after vehicle by fleet owners, the government sector, etc. SML is now star-rated by Isuzu Motors Japan, a distinguished quality standard provided for the facility, customer experience, technical expertise, and standard equipment usage, and among the top 16 Isuzu dealers worldwide. Sathosa Motors PLC (SML) is also the franchise holder for Isuzu vehicles, Isuzu Marine Engines, and Isuzu Genuine spare parts manufactured by Messrs Isuzu Motors Limited.

Proud history

Isuzu vehicles and spare parts imports and sales were handled by the New Vehicles & Machinery Department of C.W.E. up to 1985. The Ministry of Trade and Commerce under whose purview C.W.E. operated, decided to convert the New Vehicles & Machinery Department as a fully owned subsidiary company of the Co-operative Wholesale Establishment titled “Sathosa Motors Limited” on 1 January 1985 to give more freedom to carry on business operations efficiently, facing competition from other vehicle dealerships. Access Engineering PLC (AEL), a leading business enterprise in Sri Lanka, acquired the shareholding held in Sathosa Motors PLC by ITOCHU Corporation of Japan in February 2012. Subsequently, through the mandatory share purchase offer Access Engineering increased their shareholding up to 84.42%. In its most recent pioneering achievement, SML introduced the EURO IV emission standard commercial trucks in 2018, the first brand new EURO IV vehicles to enter the market. SML has commenced sales of Isuzu Marine Engines in 2021, continuing its legacy of the highly reliable diesel engine in the Marine Sector.

Christopher Joshua, the Managing Director of SML said, “We are delighted to celebrate SML’s 60th anniversary this year and to be reputed as the market leader in the Japanese commercial truck category of the automotive industry. During this landmark year, we are also celebrating 60 years of our partnership with Isuzu, a renowned vehicle brand in the world. We are grateful to Isuzu for retaining their faith and confidence and support to SML for over six decades and for bestowing a coveted star rating to SML as one of its best 16 dealers worldwide, which is a real honour for SML and reflects its professional and trustworthy service. Buoyed by our loyal customer base and ability to adapt to the new normal, SML is driving a new identity in aftersales services for strengthening its leadership position.”

State-of-the-art aftersales facilities

Six decades later, SML has created a value proposition for its loyal customer base by providing unmatched after-sales care service. The company’s key business lines are sales of new vehicles, spare parts, marine engines; and workshop services. SML caters to the country’s need for reliable, low-maintenance transportation solutions, especially to the business community.

One of the main reasons why SML has carved out a leadership status in the commercial vehicle segment is its renowned Isuzu diesel engines, time-tested, reliable, durable, and efficient. Moreover, SML possesses the expertise for commercial engines and repairs which ensures superlative after-sales service to Isuzu customers. The company has built a long-term customer base, many of whom use only Isuzu in vehicle fleets we can call it a prestigious customer base, which represents every sector in our economy.

SML has state-of-the-art aftersales facilities at Vauxhall Street Colombo, Peliyagoda, and Kurunegala. SML has made substantial investments in developing workshop facilities, upgrading them with world-class equipment such as Hydraulic Lifts up to 30T, imported precision tools, and other major facility upgrades. SML’s investments in workshop facilities reaped benefits through the pandemic, enabling the company to post a reasonable performance. Although the sector had a slow start due to the COVID-19 lockdown, steady growth in the volumes at workshops was seen and the year recorded the historic highest in revenue.

The head office and Peliyagoda workshop facilities have been upgraded and improved, increasing workshop capacity. Altogether, the Group has increased its workshop capacity by four times than its previous capacity, catering to a larger clientele in more regions. In its service and repair solutions, the workshops provide services that include all minor and major vehicle spare parts supply and repair as well as lubricant support. SML workshops rely on a range of advanced technology equipment installed for collision repair and analytics. The machinery is operated by skilled and versatile technicians trained locally and overseas, to the stringent manufacturers’ standards of operation.

SML is re-assessing the traditional methods of client servicing to identify innovative ways to reach and service clients more conveniently, safely, and efficiently. In addition, the company is keenly assessing its internal processes, systems, and IT infrastructure to streamline and increase efficiencies in the supply chain.

Marine Engines

The company has been making rapid inroads into the Marine Engines segment, having sold as many as 20 engines within a year of commencing this product line. The brand of marine engines is being well accepted by the fishery industry and boat owners. The Made in Japan brand new marine engines supplied by SML are popular around the world and deliver higher fuel efficiency and reliable performance over a long duration. Backed by an all-island dedicated aftersales support, with Isuzu trained and certified technicians and spare parts supply, the company is building a steady inflow of repeat customers who have provided excellent feedback on the performance of SML’s marine engines.

Strategic expansion plan

Strengthening its position further, SML is expanding its position as a trusted leader in the automotive industry, investing extensively in workshop facilities, and setting up new branches in strategic locations in selected cities. In 2021, a new branch was opened in Negombo focusing on inboard marine engines and spare parts sales. SML aims to expand the workshop and spare parts facilities in the coming year, offering new and existing customers’ direct access to obtain after-sales services from regional branches. In addition, where required, the Company is keen to appoint dealers in remote areas to support customers.   The Company now has 10 locations providing after-sales service, of which 03 spare parts branches were opened in Dambulla, Kandy & Badulla in 2021.

Commenting further, Priyantha Perera, Executive Director of SML said, “Despite 60 years in the industry, SML remains agile and has transformed from a sales-oriented company to an aftersales service-oriented company by driving network and service expansion to provide superior aftersales service. Our workshops have state-of-the-art facilities which are the gold standard in the industry and the only such dedicated facility for commercial vehicles which distinguishes our offering. A significant investment was made to enhance infrastructure in the workshops including vehicle painting services in a pleasing ambiance. SML has single-handedly developed the Japanese truck segment, carving out 60% of the market share. More importantly, our workshops offer services to all brands of vehicles although the core business remains Isuzu vehicles. Our teams are professionally trained here and abroad while continuous training is given to ensure they remain at the cutting-edge in vehicle servicing, repairs, and maintenance.”

Why a reliable vehicle aftersales services matter

The reason why people opt for reputed vehicle brands is to ensure they have access to proper vehicle maintenance and care from a qualified after-sales provider. These factors contribute in a major way to the longevity of the vehicle, the safety, and optimization as well as reducing repair costs over time due to the fact that the vehicle is maintained in the best shape by the aftersales service provider. SML has built strong relationships based on trust and reliability with its customers over the years. 

The Company plans to grow the after-sales and spare parts segment of the business and introduce new business ventures beyond its traditional and comfort product lines. As a trusted partner for a wide customer base island-wide, SML extends sound advice including the need to maintain vehicles in good running conditions by having them checked regularly, as the ban on vehicle s imports may not be lifted in the foreseeable future. 

Vehicles need to be regularly checked, serviced, and attend to any pre-mature irregularity immediately without damaging the vehicle further. Usage of genuine spare parts is important to keep the vehicle in good condition while good servicing and proper care enhance the performance as well as the longevity of the vehicle. In order to maintain the vehicle in pristine condition, you need a reliable after-sales care partner. SML is fully geared to provide that service – offering a free health check-up for Isuzu vehicles using specialized tools imported from Japan that diagnoses the current condition of the vehicle and its performance and recommends suitable repair and maintenance tips. As most Isuzu vehicles are used for the distribution of essential services, we at SML are ready to provide exceptional and uninterrupted service during this period of hardship to keep 100% uptime of Isuzu vehicles to serve the entire nation.