SML Isuzu Limited is an India-based commercial vehicle manufacturer that supplies buses, trucks, ambulances and other customised vehicles. Established in 1983, SML Isuzu has been producing light and medium-sized commercial vehicles. Two Japanese corporations, namely Sumitomo Corporation and Isuzu Motors have 44 percent and 15 percent stakes in the company respectively. Yugo Hashimoto, Managing Director and CEO of SML Isuzu Limited was recently in Nepal to announce new distributors for SML Isuzu vehicles- Goldfish International, a subsidiary of Laxmi Group. New Business Age talked to Hashimoto about the market for Isuzu commercial vehicles in Nepal. Excerpts:
How do you observe SML Isuzu’s market in Nepal?
Nepal has been a very important and attractive market for us. We now have the confidence that together with our products, we can offer a better experience to customers. As an important market, we would like to expand our business sales in Nepal. This is our determination and I am happy to welcome Goldfish International as the distributor of SML Isuzu.
What is the status of SML Isuzu’s commercial vehicle segment in the international arena?
The territory SML Isuzu is taking care of includes India, Nepal and other surrounding countries. Isuzu is a 15 percent owner of SML Isuzu, India, which is not directly led by Isuzu. In the Indian context, we would like to improve our product line-ups and develop competitive products. We are now facing regression and many changes especially the emission control norms which will be tough to deal with. Our responsibility is to achieve regression in time, especially meeting the Euro 6 standards from April 1, 2020, in India. The first responsibility now is to fulfil the regression requirement. We would also like to improve the quality of products so we can satisfy the customers.
Now that SML Isuzu has joined hands with Laxmi Group, how do you plan to go forward in the Nepali market?
Today I got the full business development plan from Goldfish International. I appreciated it very much; the planning was professional and of high quality. By achieving those plans, we will have the best position, reputation and share in Nepali market. We can gain trust from customers in Nepal. That is the confidence we have after hearing about the plans of our new partner.
What specific segments are you considering as your primary target?
We are a truck and bus manufacturing company so definitely it would be trucks and buses. Especially in the bus segment, we have strong and reliable school buses, which is one area. At the same time, we are developing a wider range of commuter buses also known as staff buses. Together with these products, we can penetrate the Nepali market. We are strong in the 4*4-truck area. On top of that, we would like to reinforce other truck areas.
What are the unique selling points of SML Isuzu vehicles?
We endeavour to provide the best overall ownership experience to our customers not only in terms of product performance but also in terms of availability of after-sales service, best quality infrastructures and touch points across Nepal. Specifically, in the school bus segment, we have introduced some of the latest technologies brought up in India regarding safety and manoeuvrability. We are a pioneer in the four-wheel-drive segment. Looking at the traffic situation of Kathmandu where we need vehicles with short turning radiuses, which can also carry good loads, we will introduce a small wheel based narrow model trucks. In addition, our vehicles are already known for their climbing ability, they go to all the locations where vehicles can go. Now we are going to meet the specific demands of the consumers in terms of reachability, manoeuvrability and service expectancy.