Fiat’s Turkish Unit Raises Car Market Forecast on Interest Rates

Tofas Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi AS (TOASO), a venture between automaker Fiat SpA (F) and a Turkish partner, raised its forecast for growth in the country’s car and van market this year to 4.1 percent as lower interest rates fuel purchases.

Turkish vehicle sales will probably reach 600,000 cars and 210,000 vans this year, Okan Bas, Fiat’s business director for Turkey, said June 19 in statements embargoed for release today. That compares with 778,000 units sold in 2012, comprised of 556,000 cars and 222,000 vans, he said. Previously Tofas, which is part owned by Koc Holding AS (KCHOL), expected a decline to 750,000.

Turkey’s passenger-car market expanded 14 percent to 323,187 units in the first five months of this year, according to data from the Automotive Manufacturers’ Association. That prompted Tofas to raise the forecast even as political protests have gripped parts of Istanbul and other cities in the past month, Bas said.

There hasn’t been “any difference” in car sale figures between the first two weeks of June this year and the same period in 2012, the executive said. He said it’s too early to comment on the full impact of the protests.

Turkey’s central bank cut the benchmark lending rate to 4.5 percent May 16, the lowest in history.

Tofas expects to sell 105,000 units this year in Turkey with a market share of 13 percent according to the revised forecast, Bas said. Tofas sold 102,432 units in 2012, when its market share was 13.1 percent, according to data from Automotive Distributors’ Association.

Renault SA (RNO), Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Honda Motor Co. (7267) and Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) are among manufacturers of cars, vans, trucks and buses that sell local and imported brands in Turkey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ercan Ersoy in Istanbul at eersoy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net; Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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