Mohammad Nadimur Rahman
The automobile industry is a rapidly changing industry in today’s economy. Within the industry, there has been a transition from exhausting gasoline vehicles to comfortable and user-friendly electric automobiles. Maybe one thing that makes a Muslim think positively about cars is reading the hadith in which the Prophet lists a good ride among the things that make one happy in life. However, aside from that, automobility has become an important aspect of life to behold with the changing pattern of living. We see countries and corporations spending money and enacting policy in it and reaping various gains in kind and cash out of it. The transition from gas-powered to electric vehicles has seemingly changed the rules of the business, and many players are keen to take the reins after others set the pace for decades. Perhaps the most popular new actor in this space is Tesla, but in the Muslim world, we have a very new hopeful in the industry- TOGG.
Türkiye inaugurated its first-ever domestic brand car with the help of the country’s chambers of commerce and commodity on its 99th anniversary, named TOGG. This electric vehicle features next-generation lithium-ion batteries that can be charged in around 30 minutes and reach a range of up to 500 kilometres per hour. The project was initiated in 2018, and five Turkish companies worked together on the project. To produce the vehicle, a 1.2 million square meter facility was built in the city of Bursa, which is considered a base for the company’s engineering and production. By employing 4,300 people, TOGG aims to produce 1 million vehicles in five models by 2030. So far, the company has presented five different models: SUVs, Sedans, C-hatchbacks, B-SUVs and B-MPVs.
This is not Türkiye’s first attempt to produce a domestic automobile. In the 1960s, there was an attempt to produce a domestic car called ‘Devrim’. However, media and bureaucratic sabotages, expressed as financial budgets and other raw materials for its production, made the then-young Turkish engineers’ dreams hit the wall, as they could only produce the prototype. Unfortunately, the project fell short of reaching its goal of total production due to the lack of. However, after almost six decades, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was again sanctioned for producing fully electric and C-segment models of the TOGG automobile in 2019.
Türkiye and the automobile Industry
Türkiye is already among the top 20 carmakers in the world, albeit it does not have a national brand. Its manufacturing makes up around 20% of its GDP. In 2016 around 1.14 million vehicles were exported from Türkiye, from which around 24.2 billion USD were earned. Moreover, the statistical report for 2016 showed that almost 17 % of the exported products from Türkiye belong to the automotive sector, accounting for around 8% of the industrial products. The automotive industry in Türkiye also accounts for about 5.5% of the total employment, from which 15% belongs to the manufacturing sectors. At the same time, the country is the highest producer of bus and light commercial vehicles of different international brands among the EU economies. All this evidence shows that the economy of Türkiye depends highly on the automotive industries.
Although Türkiye has different automotive factories, it doesn’t have vehicles with its brand. For instance, the brand DACIA belongs to Romania; FORD is from the USA; BMW and Mercedes-Benz belong to Germany and so on. Although Türkiye has production factories for all these vehicles, it can’t earn an entire profit by exporting them outside the regions because of brand loyalty. However, since TOGG is an entirely Turkish brand, the country has the full right to earn profits by exporting these vehicles to the outside world. In this case, the share of the economy from the automotive sector may increase more. However, it is more challenging for Türkiye to find suitable foreign buyers because several high-income countries have already developed the same technology, especially those in the European region.
Innovation in the Industry: Electric vehicles
The expansion of the industry is the primary contributor to the increasing pollution levels in the world. Transportation has contributed significantly to pollution through CO2 emissions. As a result, environmentally viable alternatives are being considered, increasing the desire for electric vehicles.
The demand for electric vehicles all over the world will increase because of the worldwide zero carbon economy targeted by 2050. This implies that the demand for electric vehicles will increase significantly. Therefore, if Türkiye can manage more foreign buyers, then the economy of Türkiye will increase at a higher rate. Meanwhile, the invention of Turkish first ever branded-electric car can also benefit the Muslim world, especially the Middle East countries, because of the geographical region. In this case, if these Middle East countries’ newly produced electric cars are relatively cheaper and better in terms of quality and effectiveness, then they prefer to buy these cars because of the increased demand for electric vehicles. This might open the gate for Türkiye to increase foreign direct investment in these newly produced electric vehicles in Middle East countries. This will not only improve the economic growth in Türkiye but also in other Middle East countries.
Meanwhile, it is important to state that Türkiye is not the sole Muslim actor in the industry. Malaysia has a local car company known as Proton, founded in 1983. However, it has not successfully won a good share of the global market. Iran also started its automobile industry in 1969. Still, the country managed to produce the model of one car, but unfortunately, it ended later due to some economic and financial reasons. It is reasonable to think that venturing into the new generations of vehicles can create more viable chances for Malaysia’s Proton, for instance. Meanwhile, since Türkiye already developed the technology of electric automobiles, it can help Iran to redevelop the car industries in Iran by providing technological support and other investment that is related to FDI.
It is very necessary to point out that the ability to continue working in the sector is contingent upon their focus on purpose and an absence of sabotage that might potentially damage the industry from within. From the foregoing, it is also important to note that with companies with a clear purpose and strong founding principles, the industry can only stand to gain in the long run, as against the prophecy of doom that some have expressed about TOGG.