Turkish invasion with newcomers and established names

10 October 2023

Coffee and a piece of Turkish fruit candy, you can't avoid it at Busworld. An overwhelming number of manufacturers from Turkey fill the halls of the bus show. Ambitious, entrepreneurial and favourable wage costs are the keys to their success.

It almost looks like an invasion of Turkish bus manufacturers and suppliers at Busworld. Established manufacturers and start-ups present their top products. The Turkish bus sector has become a mayor global player in just a few decades.

The rapid growth of this industry is rooted in the need for public transport. No big buses but compact vehicles in the 6 to 10-metre category to carry 30 to 40 passengers. Minibuses are in the DNA of Turkish companies. They are affordable for the many small businesses.

Turkey's large production of minibuses made its entry into the foreign market possible as European manufacturers ignored this segment due to too limited production numbers. So Turkish companies filled the gap in the market. And in no time these manufacturers were able to work their way up to solid competitors with vehicles that matched European standards.

'The focus of the industry on public transport is the basis of the success of Turkish bus manufacturers. Public transport was in high demand during the 1970s. Many entrepreneurs responded immediately to this trend. In addition to bus manufacturers, a multitude of suppliers emerged,' says Emre Hür, manager of bus manufacturer Karsan.

Turkish manufacturers have a significant competitive advantage over Western European manufacturers. 'Lower wages and a 45-hour work week play in our favour. There is also a large supply of labour, unlike the shortage of workers in Western Europe. But also the faster development of our vehicles,' ensures a more favourable position,' says Emre Hür. Karsan also limits diversification by no longer building diesel or CNG-powered vehicles.

In an already crowded Turkish market, there are still newcomers like Habas which is showing off three brand new buses at Busworld. Bus manufacturer Habas is a branch of a 76-year-old and large holding company that produces industrial gas and medicinal applications. Things are moving fast at Habas. Started in 2021 during the pandemic and already present with three final products to make it happen in Europe. 'The flexibility of production, the modularity of our vehicles and also the proximity to Western Europe are our assets. 'In less than three days, we can deliver buses to the most remote corners of the European continent,' says Levent Ozbek, sales manager of Habas.

However, Turkey's industry faces challenges such as terrifying inflation and an unfavourable exchange rate. 'But our years of experience, our perseverance and cooperation with strong suppliers, help us cope even in these difficult times,' says Sevcan Karaman, sales manager of Anadolu Isuzu.