The meeting concluded that the tax rates on automobiles should be brought down to European tax levels, a critical step to reinvigorate the sector.
The company representatives had the opportunity to convey their demands and suggestions to the minister at first hand.
Turkey should develop as R&D and design hub
Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (OSD) President Kudret Önen:
We also spent a great deal of time preparing the [Industry and Trade Ministry’s] Automotive Sector Strategy Plan. This move was warmly welcomed by sector representatives. The sector enjoyed a growth of 6.4 percent in the January-April period compared to the same period of last year.
Now, it’s time to rebound. It’s time for Turkey to become a research and development (R&D) and design hub. Only in this way can we increase the share of domestic firms in production and start to produce our own brands. Furthermore, boosting demand in the domestic market is also a part of the strategy plan.
Automotive industry without domestic market doomed to fail
Automotive Distributors’ Association (ODD) President Mustafa Bayraktar:
Seeing the positive response to the strategy plan and feeling that we will also contribute to these ideas, we have hope and courage. The domestic market is the main dynamo of both commerce and industry. An automotive industry cannot grow by itself without a domestic market. If customers become richer with low interest rates, they will start investing money in the automotive sector. Now, Turks have to pay more than the rest of the world for vehicles. If prices for automobiles in Turkey are decreased, the market will develop faster.
With 268 members, we will expand abroad
Association of Automotive Parts and Components Manufacturers (TAYSAD) President Celal Kaya:
The way out of the recession for us is to come together with international producers around the world. To achieve this, we give priority to visits to overseas countries. We arranged a meeting with [German automaker] MAN in the near future because we do not want to remain somewhere in the middle. We want to expand into overseas countries with all of our 268 members.
Maintaining good performance more important than reaching the top once
Temsa Global CEO Mehmet Buldurgan:
My company produces buses, a sector that has yet to see much improvement. Forget about the domestic market; we suffered a reduction of 20 percent in the European market. We used to be the champion in bus production in Europe but, unfortunately, came in second last year. In such a rapidly changing world, it is more important to maintain good performance than reach the top once. How can we remain Europe’s number one bus production company? It would be helpful if municipalities purchased some vehicles. We need to protect our brand in order to avoid laying off workers.
We should open up Middle East and North Africa markets
Tofaş CEO Ali Pandır:
The Turkish auto industry should intensify its quest to branch out into the Middle East and North African markets as the first step of attempts to diversify its export markets. In this regard, countries such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt could be profitable to start trading with. Turkey needs to seek different auto export markets in addition to the EU. This issue should also be discussed in the Automotive Sector Strategy Plan, which is of the utmost importance for the sector’s future.
Branding crucial for boosting market
Hexagon CEO Jan Nahum:
The Turkish auto sector should create its own brands before anything else so it can enjoy new projects with relatively higher value added. Around 85 percent of Turkey’s auto market is composed of joint ventures. We need to find a way to reduce the share of joint ventures and encourage the creation of new brands. I think the number of joint ventures in the auto market should be reduced to 60 percent, a move to make sure more local firms will benefit from high value projects. If we cannot do this, Turkey will remain as a research and development vendor instead of being the developer itself.
Future projects must comply with EU norms
Hyundai Assan Turkey CEO Ali Kibar:
Future auto manufacturing projects in Turkey must be fully compliant with EU standards, a prominent anchor for development in the market. We should accommodate ourselves to the latest trends in auto manufacturing, and the EU standards could be a good option. When looking at the problems in the Turkish auto supply industry, we see that the biggest drawback is the relatively higher raw material prices.
Infrastructure needed for switch to electric car
Renault Mais General Director İbrahim Aybar:
Renault will shortly begin manufacturing electric car models in Turkey; these cars will first be exported. We should establish the necessary infrastructure before the cars are released to the domestic market as well. This is critical for the future of the sector. We welcome the new strategy and hope the latest technological developments are always on the agenda.
Opportunities should be closely watched
Ford Automotive General Manager N. Kamil Otay:
We respect the idea of creating Turkey’s own car brand; however, the sector should not ignore certain opportunities in the market while focusing on branding. There is cutthroat competition in the market; companies are endeavoring to minimize losses.
Undersecretariat for automotives a necessity
Mermerler Automotive CEO Yüksel Mermer:
The sector expects the government to establish an industry undersecretariat to better address problems in the auto market. This way we would have the opportunity to convey our demands and problems more quickly to the government. We could prepare reports periodically to this end, which would give the government a better view of the sector.
Iran could be a model for Turkey
IKCO General Manager Şükrü Seskır:
Although it is a manufacturing hub for autos, Turkey still does not have its own car brand and for this, the country could take its neighbor Iran as an example. Iran has certain problems in their auto market but they are able to develop and promote their own brand in global markets. I suggest studies be accelerated to this end.
Domestic growth for increased investments
Nissan Automotive Turkey head İlkim Sancaktaroğlu:
The average income in Turkey is increasing with every passing year, and the auto industry should capitalize on that potential. We should focus on increasing the size of the domestic market; the number of cars sold in Turkey is below the desired level.