Car firms in Turkey divided on domestic brand

Car firms in Turkey divided on domestic brand

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Car firms in Turkey divided on domestic brand

Turkey, a long-time carmaker, is discussing building up its domestic brand. AA photo

The top executives of foreign car producers operating in Turkey are divided on whether the government’s bid to produce a domestic car under a Turkish brand and remain cautious on the sweeping incentives schemes recently announced by the government.

The senior managers of Ford, Renault, Toyota, Hyundai and Tofaş (Italian car maker Fiat’s partner in Turkey) participated in a seminar called “Made in Turkey” last week as part of a congress organized by the Authorized Automotive Dealers’ Association (OYDER).

The general manager of Ford Otosan, Haydar Yenigün, said he wanted to correct a mistake about the issue of domestic car production. “Turkey has produced domestic cars since 1966,” he said. Complete domestic production is impossible, said Yenigün, adding that the aim was to create a domestic brand.

“No industrialist would take on the responsibility to ‘to produce a domestic car’ if the economic fundamentals of the bid were not well-calculated,” he said.

He also said the details of the incentives package are not clear and added that there was no incentive for the automotive industry.

Conversely, Tarık Tunalıoğlu, the general manager of Oyak Renault, said his company was prepared for the domestic car project.

While there was an incentive for large investments in 2009, it did not proceed well, he said. 

Toyota Turkey’s chief executive, Orhan Özer, seemed to be the most optimistic of all speakers at the panel regarding domestic car production. He said he believed that Turkey had the power to create its own car brand but added that the hard part was not production but sales and marketing.

“But I am optimistic about it, because the government perceives this [effort] as a whole and supports it.
 Even a little support from the state can easily lift a brand or an enterprise,” he said.

TOFAŞ CEO Kamil Başaran said the automotive industry needed to rise to “Designed in Turkey” not “Made in Turkey.” He echoed his colleague Yenigün on the lack of details in the incentives scheme, saying: “Incentives are unclear right now. There is no official notice, no detail.”

Governmental investment supports in Eastern Europe, particularly Serbia’s incentives for the automotive industry, are real threats, he said.

Ümit Karaarslan, the managing director of Hyundai Assan, said the incentive scheme had tantalized him but lamented the lack of details. The details of incentives will have to emerge in 15 to 20 days, otherwise it could be late for present investments, he said.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Bianli Yıldırım boasted yesterday, saying Turkey would make a domestic car, build a domestic aircraft and even maintain the capacity to build a domestic satellite.