Referans - Turkish car maker Tofas, a joint venture between Italian Fiat and Turkey’s Koc Group, today has a world-class research and development (R&D) center that started out 16 years ago with only eight engineers. In the new Doblo light commercial vehicle project developed by Tofas, the company benefited from the skills of Turkish engineers and saved more than EUR 50 million that would otherwise be spent abroad for R&D works.
During the meeting held with correspondents in the Bursa R&D center, Ali Pandir, Tofas CEO, said they now have an R&D center with 450 engineers that is completely capable of designing and producing a vehicle in Turkey. “With new projects and government incentives, the number of our employees in the R&D center increased to 450 in the last three years. We have reduced the time needed for a vehicle to leave the drawing board and get on the road to 18 months from three years.”
Pandir also underlined that Turkish engineers are responsible for nearly 80 percent of R&D work on Fiat Doblo, and added, “Production rights of the USD 400 million Doblo project are held by Tofas. Some EUR 150 million has been spent on R&D efforts. We employed 200 engineers for this project alone. 100 Italians came to Turkey to work on Fiat Fiorino, while this number dropped to 20 in Doblo. Italian engineers worked only on design features of Doblo. Had Doblo been developed abroad, it would have cost EUR 200-210 million. We invested in our R&D center and now see it bear its fruits.”
“Fiat has four R&D centers”, said Pandir, adding “The biggest is in Torino, while others are located in Napoli, Bursa and Brazil. Bursa ranks the second in terms of performance.”
Having manufactured the first prototypes of the new Doblo model running on natural gas (CNG), Tofas’ CEO Ali Pandir said they are also ready to produce the electric-powered version of Doblo.