What is the future of the Turkish automotive industry?
The Turkish government is hell-bent over producing a national car brand. There are various reasons for that, but most importantly, having a national car brand would decrease the country’s trade deficit. If the national car is an electric one it would be even better because it would also decrease the deficit created by petroleum products. However, none of the big holdings in Turkey shared the government’s enthusiasm, because in order for a national car brand to be profitable it either has to be a very expensive luxurious brand or an average priced brand which can sell more than a million cars per year. Everybody knows that kind of a market does not exist in Turkey. So what to do?
According to AVL Turkey’s General Manager Dr. Umut Genç, a national car brand is a brilliant idea and it should be pursued. He added that AVL is working on a hybrid car model to be on the road by the end of 2018 and an indigenous car by the end of 2020.
AVL is the world’s largest independent company for the development of powertrain systems with internal combustion engines as well as instrumentation and test systems. They have various R&D centers around the world and Istanbul is one of the important hubs with 140 engineers working on high-tech automotive technologies.
With all this knowledge, Genç also pointed out that Turkish automotive parts and components industry is one of the most advanced in the world and we could also turn it to our competitive advantage while chasing our dream of producing a local car brand.
He said if we can produce smart automotive parts like smart lights or smart camera and tracking systems, than we could be one of the world leaders, because if you can produce an automotive part with high efficiency than you can sell it to all the brands out there.
Genç also added that as AVL they started to export automotive designs and they are connected to many other AVL offices around the world which are seeking the kind of engineering their Istanbul office has.
Before meeting AVL I had only heard of Hexagon in the same market. Hexagon is mainly working with Karsan but they are also exporting designs. Maybe there is a third or a fourth one that I don’t know about.
I believe that instead of pushing forward a dream, which there is no market for, we should be giving our best support to companies like AVL and Hexagon. Furthermore, we should also strengthen our industries that are currently exporting automotive products to various markets.
It seems to me that investing in areas we already have a competitive advantage in makes much more sense than taking a challenge in producing a national car brand, which we lack the market size and the competitive advantage.