16 Nisan 2011 Cumartesi

Northwest may become 'new Detroit,' Turkish minister says

A four-year strategy document for Turkey’s automotive sector, announced Thursday by Turkish Trade and Industry Minister Nihat Ergün, suggests a series of attempts to pump fresh blood into the sector.
Three northwestern provinces – Bursa, Adapazarı and Sakarya – “could become a new Detroit,” according to the minister.

“Turkey could increase its competitiveness with the new strategy plan designed with the participation of the leading distributors, manufacturers and associations of Turkish automotive industry,” said Ergün, speaking at the Istanbul meeting.

Political stability in the country over the last eight years has boosted the economy and the automobile sales climbed from 510,000 in last year compared with 90,000 in 2001.

Turkish auto sales hit a record last year, according to initial figures that indicate that nearly 750,000 vehicles were sold last year due to increasing demand.

Noting that production hubs of the automotive industry have been shifting toward to new regions, the northwestern provinces could be turned into a “new Detroit,” Ergün said. The total number of automobiles produced was nearly 500,000, Ergün said, “Turkey aims to increase the number to 1 million in next five years.” Ergün said Turkey is highly preferred by the leading global automotive companies due to the production cost and the quality.

Pointing out the risk that the domestic automotive sector faces, Ergün said, “Turkey’s foreign trade surplus, which was $5 billion, decreased to $3.5 billion and is finally down to $373 million.” Ergün said the Turkish automotive sector should not rely on increasing imports. Ergün said nearly one-third of automobiles sold in Turkey are produced in Turkey. “Automotive companies should increase their product range and export volumes.”

Ergün said leading companies in the sector would invest nearly $2 billion in new projects by the end of this year. Pointing out the importance of hybrid and electric cars for Turkey, “We have decreased the tax down to 3 percent in order to promote the use of green cars.”

A Turkish automobile brand 

The minister said Turkey could produce its own automotive brands. Noting that most of the well-known automotive brands import parts and equipment, he said, “Turkey could also start having it own brand with this way,” said Ergün. “I do not expect a 100 percent purely Turkish car,” adding that leaders of the sector should consider investing in a domestically produced Turkish car.

“Turkey has the capacity to manufacture its own car,” said the general manager of Skoda Turkey, Mahmut C. Kadribeyoğlu, talking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “At the same time it is not easy to have a global brand,” he added. “Unfortunately, Turkey does not have many global brands in general and it is even more complicated and harder to create a successful global brand,” said Kadribeyoğlu.

 Targets in the strategy document
1. Improving research and development infrastructure
2. Increasing production capacity and supporting innovation design and brands
3. Increasing the sales and existence in domestic and global markets
4. Improving legal and administrative processes in the sector
5. Improving physical conditions for Turkish automotive sector

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