How Ford Otosan’s sustainability drive is disrupting the Turkish automotive market

Laura Mullan
|Oct 5|magazine15 min read

It seems that nothing is putting the brakes on Turkey’s burgeoning automotive sector. In 2017, the nation’s vehicle production reached an all-time high, with the country rolling out approximately 1.75mn vehicles according to the Turkish Automotive Manufacturers Association. Leading the pack, Ford Otosan has vowed to forge a sustainable path in the automotive industry by championing leading manufacturing practices and environmental standards.

Owned equally by Ford Motor Company and Koç Holding, Ford Otosan describes itself as the region’s ‘export champion’ and it’s clear to see why. With a production capacity of 440,000 commercial vehicles, 75,000 engines and 140,000 powertrains, the firm stands as the largest commercial vehicle production centre of Ford vehicles in Europe.

Today, by tapping into the expertise of its parent companies, Ford Otosan hopes to tackle some of the biggest questions facing the automotive sector, which have arisen as a result of urbanisation, climate change and demographic changes. 

Onwards and upwards: sustainable, profitable growth

In its latest sustainability report, Ford Otosan said that 2017 had been ‘full of success and record-breaking practices’. The firm not only preserved its place in Borsa Istanbul’s Sustainability Index but has also been included in the ‘FTSE4Good developing Markets Index’, an internationally-renowned index in responsible investment. This view is clearly echoed by Ford Otosan’s General Manager, Haydar Yenigün.

“In 2017, we maintained our position as the leader in commercial vehicles as our market share rose to 30.3%,” Yenigün explains. “We also became the export leader of Turkey once again, achieving $4.9bn in export revenues.” The firm’s financial figures make for impressive reading but, keen not to be complacent, Ford Otosan has now developed a strategy to keep up this sustainable growth.

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Along with the growing sharing economy in the automotive industry, autonomous and electric vehicles are paving the way towards a strong trend of change

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Digitisation forms a key part of this plan and, in light of this, Ford Otosan has increasingly invested in technology to create the so-called ‘future of mobility.’ With extra funding allocated to data analytics, cybersecurity, coding and more, Yenigün says the firm is adapting to Industry 4.0 and cementing its leadership in the sector.

“One of our projects, the most important perhaps, has been the company’s digital platform transformation,” he says. “This involves moving everything that the company has created to a digital platform and managing all future innovation and business opportunities on this platform.”

In a similar vein, Ford Otosan has also used technology to transform the customer experience of sale and after-sale interactions. In a project known as iDEAL, the company has developed an app that supports the development of its dealers in areas such as digitisation, employee improvement, customer satisfaction and institutionalisation. “As a result of the app, the rate of returns for sales has improved by 60% through data analytics,” notes Yenigün. “We have also achieved an additional turnover of US$15mn in after-sale processes. Our goal is to fully roll-out the platform by 2019.” On top of this, the automotive giant has also invested heavily in its R&D capabilities. Yenigün says that the firm now boasts the largest technology and R&D base in the Turkish automotive market.

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Scaling up low-emission vehicles

Climate change is perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing the automotive sector and Ford Otosan has taken up the fight. As a result, the company is striving to deliver fuel efficiency and reduce its emissions by developing cutting-edge engines, transmission boxes, electronic systems and more.

“Along with the growing sharing economy in the automotive industry, autonomous and electric vehicles are paving the way towards a strong trend of change,” observes Yenigün. “At Ford Otosan, thanks to the vision of both Koç Holding and Ford, we have been able to start these activities much earlier.

“Our partner Ford is working on smart mobility, electric and autonomous vehicles, taking firm and quick steps,” he continues. “With an investment of $11bn, Ford aims to develop 40 hybrid and electric vehicles by 2022 and we are happy to report that one of these — the Ford Custom — is manufactured in Turkey.”

Alongside 11 other peers, Ford Otosan has also given a helping hand to the optiTruck project, which aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of heavy commercial vehicles. The prototype, Yenigün adds, is planned to be over 20% more efficient than the Euro 6 standard heavy commercial vehicle.

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  • Smart mobility, smart cities

    According to a new report by Grand View Research, the global smart cities market is forecast to reach $2.57trn by 2025 and it seems that Ford Otosan hasn’t neglected this booming market. Through its ‘City of Tomorrow’ vision, the company is embarking on internal entrepreneurship projects that aim to support smart mobility solutions.

    “We are working on the development of safe, efficient, life-enhancing and low-emission transportation models and we’re also aiming to ensure the sustainable production of these technologies for the smart cities of the future,” comments Yenigün.

    “Sustainable mobility solutions are not only the most important component of smart cities, they also can make a big difference by making people’s lives easier. To this end, our goal is to contribute to sustainable solutions by working on vehicles with low emissions and smart technologies. Besides this, we are also working with governmental organisations to make city life more liveable.”

    One such project that hopes to support smart city initiatives is Easy Route, a mobile app created by Ford Otosan. Providing up-to-date traffic news, traffic forecasts and navigation, the app uses a smart algorithm to predict future traffic density as well as the total cost of trips and emission values. So far, the tool has been downloaded by 233,000 users with the company aiming to reach 475,000 users by the end of 2019. In doing so, the firm hopes to confine urban congestion to history.

    Investing in people

    Ford Otosan’s sustainability efforts aren’t just restricted to environmental issues or technology; the company is also keen to promote an inclusive workforce in the belief that its diversity is its strength. Just two years ago, for instance, Ford Otosan appointed the industry’s first female Chief Digital Officer, Hayriye Karadeniz.  Today, the automotive company hires around 1,700 female employees, a 30% increase compared to 2015, and Yenigün is keen to keep up this momentum.

    He says: “One of the biggest problems facing the business world is the discrimination experienced by women during recruitment. Our goal is to employ one woman for every two candidates in our selection and placement process.”

    Ending last year on a record-high, Ford Otosan’s vision for the future is a simple one: to become the most valuable and more preferred industrial company in Turkey. With its environmentally and socially conscious ethos, it seems that this goal is well within its grasp.

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