In the last 16 years, Turkey's economic development and growth have recorded tremendous performances. While the country's gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $238.5 billion in 2002, it rose to $850 billion in 2017, according to World Bank data. This more than 350 percent surge in growth has largely been facilitated by reforms and private sector investments. Vice President Fuat Oktay stressed Tuesday that Turkey has built its economic development and growth on a dynamic private sector during his address at the Toyota plant in the industrial Marmara province of Sakarya.
Speaking at the new Toyota Corolla hybrid model's assembly line opening ceremony in Sakarya, Vice President Oktay stressed that the government has provided all and any kind of support for foreign and local investors who wanted to contribute to Turkey's development.
Many great steps to expedite bureaucratic processes have been taken in the last 16 years, he stressed.
"The support packages included land allocations and tax reductions, among others. The investment office and other agencies have helped firms that want to invest in Turkey. We have made no discrimination against international companies that have put trust in the Turkish economy," Oktay said.
From 1975 to 2002, Turkey attracted a total of $15 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) and in the period of 2003 to 2018, the country received $204 billion in FDI, Oktay stated. Likewise, Turkish businesspeople also increased their overseas investments by up to $38 billion. The value of projects undertaken by Turkish contractors in 123 countries totaled to $379 billion.
Oktay also evaluated Toyota's investments in Turkey and stressed that the Japanese carmaker builds a partnership of the future with Turkey. He said Toyota, the second best-selling brand in the world, ranks second in Turkey's automobile exports, adding Corolla stands out as a source of pride for Turkey as the world's best-selling model.
Oktay noted that with the production of the hybrid model in Turkey, there will be a significant leap in this area.
"Rapid developments in hybrid and electric car technologies indicate they will soon replace conventional engines," he said. "In order not to fall behind this process as Turkey, we are trying to cover distance in both areas. In this context, we express our desire to prioritize hybrid and electric models in the studies related to our national automobile brand."
Vice President Oktay said that as a country that imports almost all of the fuel used at home, Turkey has to follow these developments closely, stressing Turkey, which makes very serious investments in renewable energy sources for electricity generation, cannot neglect the automobile market.
"With the awareness that the cheapest energy is saved energy, it is of vital importance to develop and use low consumption and environmentally-friendly automobile technologies in our country," he continued. "The fact that the process which started three years ago for Toyota Corolla's hybrid model resulted in the exit from the production line is the outcome of this understanding."
Oktay said they are quite pleased that Corolla's hybrid model has started to be manufactured in Turkey after the hybrid technology SUV model launched in 2016, stating that other companies have similar expansions as well, and that they have provided very serious tax benefits offering around 50 percent tax reduction for hybrid vehicles operating, with a saving rate of up to 50 percent.
He further stated that they are trying to contribute to the return of investments in hybrid cars in this scope. Pointing out that Turkey is still in its infancy in terms of hybrid and electric car sales, Oktay recalled nearly 4,000 hybrid and only 155 electric cars were sold in the country last year, while total car sales stood at close to half a million.
"Under the leadership of the president, by introducing new incentives if necessary, we are committed to raising these numbers. The fact that Toyota vehicles produced in Sakarya are exported to 150 countries is also important for us. I believe we will have greater cooperation opportunities with Toyota, which has invested $2.5 billion in our country to date," the vice president said, thanking the Turkish and Japanese engineers who have contributed to the development and production of this model, as well as the Toyota management, which has invested in Sakarya by relying on Turkey's potential.
Toyota Turkey is one of Toyota's vehicle production bases in Europe. Located in the northwestern Anatolian province of Sakarya, Toyota Turkey currently manufactures the C-HR, Corolla and Verso models.
Toyota Corolla is still the best-selling car worldwide with 46 million units sold since its debut. The 2019 Corolla Saloon Hybrid, which will be this model's 12th generation, made its debut in 1966.
Corolla will be available with two types of engines, 1.8-liter self-charging hybrid and 1.6-liter petrol. Toyota Turkey launched its first hybrid vehicle, C-HR, a sport utility vehicle (SUV), in October 2016 in Turkey.
In its previous statement, Toyota Turkey said the new Corolla will be put up for sale in the first quarter of this year.
During his visit to Toyota's factory in mid-November, Technology and Industry Minister Mustafa Varank said the new model, which has 50 percent less fuel consumption per vehicle, will be exported to 100 countries worldwide.
Meanwhile, Toyota has become the first brand halting its diesel car sales in Turkey. The Japanese brand, which ended its diesel production and sales in Europe last year, will henceforth sell only hybrid and gasoline engines.
Toyota Turkey CEO Haydar Bozkurt was cited by the Turkish daily Hürriyet as saying, "Actually, we had planned it for 2020 but we reached our goal a year earlier. Instead of diesel, we will sell a hybrid version of each of our passenger models, including the new Corolla."