“Our car” is what the Turkish word ‘Arabamız’ translates to in English. The country, which is the 14th largest automobile manufacturer in the world, recently announced its first indigenous car whose prototype is expected by 2019 with commercial production targeted by 2021.
Five companies will collaborate to bring the national pride project to fruition. Three of them – Anadolu Group, BMC, and Kıraça Holdings – are directly involved in manufacturing cars for foreign brands including Kia and Isuzu. Among the other two, Turkcell is the nation’s largest mobile operator while Zorlu Holding is a conglomerate and will primarily provide technical support and assistance.
An experienced campaigner
Though Turkey may seem late to the game of car manufacturing, it is an experienced campaigner in the arena as it currently exports cars to Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia. 77% of the production of its automotive industry was exported in 2016 with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom among the top export destinations.
The graph above shows auto production in the country is segregated across the commercial vehicle and passenger car segments, and points to the increasing interest of its export partners in choosing the country as a key overseas manufacturing hub.
Apart from manufacturing, Turkey is also home to research and development centers of global auto majors including Ford, Daimler, and Fiat.
Development of an indigenous car also makes sense from the perspective of domestic consumption. Monthly sales figures over the past 10 years, as shown by the graph below, show a generally increasing trend.
Electric and hybrid car sales are also posting impressive numbers, with sales up 800% in the first nine months of 2017 to 2,763 compared to 300 in first nine months of 2016. Meanwhile, the yearly sales breakdown shows rising demand for passengers.
The country imports about 70% of its vehicles, thus indicating a massive domestic demand which can be served with homegrown production. Further, fulfillment of some portion of this demand would also help in reducing imports as well as currency outflow.
The car, which has not yet been named, is not the first attempt by Turkey in domestic car production though. In the 1960s, the country had created its first locally made car christened “Devrim” which translates to “revolution.”
However, the car was riddled with issues concerning fuel consumption and many other. In the end, the project never came to fruition. This is the first concrete attempt at making a domestic car again since then.
With the focus now on hybrid and electric cars, it is possible that this new car may herald the auto revolution in Turkey that was originally envisioned six decades ago.