Manufacturing domestic car a ‘big challenge’ for Turkey
Vahap Munyar - STUTTGART
HÜRRİYET PhotoTurkey has the technical and financial capacity to develop a domestic car, but launching an international brand is a big challenge, according to Mercedez-Benz Türk CEO and President Rainer Genes.
“Turkey has the technical infrastructure and financial sources to develop a locally-produced car. But that is not enough to be successful in the local market. The point is to enable the brand to be embraced in international markets, which is quite challenging because there are global giants that have been doing this business for years,” Genes said.
The Turkish government has set a target of producing a car brand by means of local resources two years ago.
However, last October, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işık pointed to electric automotive technology as a “new window of opportunity,” as Turkey had “missed the train” of combustion motorized cars. Işık set 2020 as the year for the advent of a domestically produced ready-to-market electric car.
Mercedez-Benz Türk CEO Genes said the company had invested 885 million euros in Turkey since 1967, reaching revenues of 3 billion euros last year.
“We are glad to do business in Turkey as we have always been welcomed by all governments in Turkey. We employ 5,700 people in our bus production facilities in Istanbul and our in truck company in the Aksaray province,” he added.
He added that over 400 engineers work at the company’s R&D center, which was established in 2009.
“One of the global IT centers of our company went online in Istanbul in 2013. This center employs 140 people and we plan to hire 60 more,” Genes said.
The company produced 3,686 buses in 2014 and some 82 percent of these units were exported. Around 18,500 trucks were also manufactured at the company’s Aksaray facilities last year and some 97 percent of them were exported, according to Genes, who said they aim to raise the share of exports in total truck sales.
Genes said the company sold 54,118 vehicles in Turkey last year, and plans to extend its operations in the country in the coming years.