Global manufacturing, local growth

Ford Otosan, one of Turkey’s largest automobile manufacturing plants, boasts an export-focused approach to growth. You can clearly see this at the Yeniköy plant.

It’s hard not to be taken in when you set foot in Ford’s Yeniköy automobile plant. Giant robots, a flawlessly functioning system, smiling workers, stateof- the-art technology, and witnessing the making of an automobile in its entirety. We are walking around the plant accompanied by Ford Otosan CEO Haydar Yenigün, watching the employees work cheerfully in a smooth rhythm as we get into an intense conversation. Ford is one of the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers, and has been operating in Turkey for many years. Manufacturing in Turkey completely coincides with Ford’s global targets and vision. Haydar Yenigün is a mechanical engineer with hands-on experience in production — evident from the excitement in his eyes. He feels the same excitement when telling us Ford’s story and philosophy in Turkey.

This is one of Turkey’s largest industrial facilities. What does Ford Otosan mean for Turkey’s industrial history?

Built in 1959 as Ford’s assembly plant, Ford Otosan is Turkey’s biggest automobile manufacturer and exporter today. We operate in five facilities and three main centers. With a 10,000-strong workforce, we lead the industry in exports and recruitment. The Gölcük plant is a world-leading manufacturing center for Ford Transit, and is the only place where the Ford Tourneo and Transit Custom are made. The Yeniköy plant, where we are right now, is the only manufacturing center in the world for the Ford Transit Tourneo Courier. İnönü plant in Eskişehir is one of the two global manufacturing centers for Ford Trucks and tow trucks. We have the highest installed capacity in Turkey with an annual production capacity of 415,000 units. Over the past five years, our net exports reached $2 billion manufacturing alone. A global engineering center for heavy commercial vehicles and related diesel engine and engine systems through its R&D operations, Ford Otosan aspires to advance Turkey’s competitiveness through its passenger and light commercial vehicle projects it develops for global Ford. Since our foundation, we have given priority to the growth of the Turkish automotive industry. Along with manufacturing, we continue to export engineering and create added value as a result of constant R&D investments.

How many workers are putting in how many hours to produce how many units here?

In a total of three manufacturing facilities, nearly 8,000 blue collar employees work three shifts in a day. We export to 80 countries in five continents throughout the world, and our share in the Turkish commercial vehicle exports market has hit 65 percent. Our export countries are diverse; however, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain take the lead in Europe, our main export market. We export more than 75 percent of what we manufacture.

What is Ford Otosan’s growth philosophy? How is this philosophy integrated into the country’s vision?

We are driven by an R&D and export-focused philosophy. In line with Turkey’s 2023 targets, we are forging ahead to achieve $75 billion worth of exports in the automotive industry. We spent over 1.2 billion Turkish lira on R&D between 2010-2014, and we support the goal of making R&D expenses account for 3 percent of national income. As the industry’s export leader, we believe we are contributing considerably to the target with our R&D, innovation, and digital transformation efforts, in addition to excellent manufacturing operations.

What would you say to potential investors planning to manufacture in Turkey?

Turkey is an important center in global automotive manufacturing: it ranks 17th worldwide, and seventh among the EU countries. It is the manufacturing center of numerous international automotive companies. Turkey offers a cost effective, flexible, and innovative automobile ecosystem to many investors, not only with its main industrial manufacturers but also with its highly developed supplier industry. Our country enjoys a coveted location at the center of a wide and rich region. Thanks to the Customs Union Agreement with Europe, we can export under the same conditions as European manufacturers without being subject to customs tax. Investors benefit from the positive environment thanks to the government policies that support the industry.