22 Sep 23

‘EVs can account for over 20% of new car sales in Turkey in five years’

Turkey’s electrification curve has not been so high compared to several European countries. Still, the trend is changing as the industry has picked up the haste following the release of the first domestically produced all-electric car, TOGG, says Yasemin Ağırdır Aktan, Co-founder and Marketing Director at Voltify. The İstanbul based start-up is the first and only subscription-based electric vehicle platform in Turkey, eager to boost the positive trend across the country, where EV sales are expected to surge in the coming years.

Turkey has a strong auto industry, producing vehicles for over a dozen global giants, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Renault. Yet, the first domestically produced passenger car, TOGG (Turkey’s Automobile Joint Venture Group), was announced in 2017 and released as the first passenger car, along with being all-electric in 2023. The timing of TOGG couldn’t be better, according to Aktan, as gasoline prices increased five-fold in Turkey in the past two years, pushing consumers to alternatives, primarily to electric vehicles (EVs). Several automakers are concentrating their marketing efforts on the newly released EV models, tempting consumers on EV benefits and increasing awareness, says Aktan. 

What is the role of Voltify in this picture? 

Turkey’s electrification efforts have been slower than many European countries. Still, the trend is changing as the popularity of EVs is increasing following the launch of the first domestically produced all-electric car, says Aktan. 

Voltify handles insurance, maintenance and repairs, significantly reducing the hesitation of first-timer EV users in Turkey. “So what’s left for our subscribers is to focus solely on the joy and convenience of driving.” 

Voltify is a %100 subsidiary of Hedef Filo, a leading lease company in Turkey and is eager to expand its services and solutions. Aktan says they’re in talks with partners in the EV ecosystem to expand its range of vehicles and solutions around topics such as charging and micromobility.  

Turkey has been slow, but things are changing

Several factors have kept Turkey behind in electrification in recent years. One obvious factor is the lack of financial and fiscal incentives compared to other countries, says Aktan. Additionally, the high initial costs of EVs deter many consumers when combined with range anxiety and lack of charging infrastructure. 

According to the Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Authority, there are over 3,700 charging stations and over 8,000 charging sockets in Turkey as of August 2023, far from enough for a country with over 80 million population. 

Another factor has been the scarcity of EV models in Turkey, and the domestic industry is based on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, notes Aktan. Eventually, transforming a solid ICE industry into an electric one will pose economic challenges. Of course, increasing the awareness about EVs will take time, says Aktan. “An EV was rarely within the shortlist of options when purchasing a car, and even if it is, there was a high probability of it getting bumped due to concerns related to charging, range and second-hand value. Fortunately, that’s starting to change now.”

What is changing? 

“The acceleration is very promising. In 2020, the number of EVs sold in Turkey was around 850. 2021 was about 3.000; 2022 was 8.000. This year, in the first eight months, it’s more than 22.000, up by seven-fold compared to the same period last year. That is almost 4% of all car sales and very close to the 5% tipping point that signals the start of mass adoption.” 

The entrance of Tesla to the Turkish EV market in April 2023 and the launch of the national EV brand, TOGG, certainly fueled the hype, says Aktan. Yet, Turkey is still behind in the global EV market despite its track record in adopting new technologies; Aktan takes note, underlining the potential of the Turkish market. 

What is the perspective of Turkish consumers towards EVs? 

As gas prices surge, many in Turkey consider switching to EVs for lower energy and maintenance costs. On the other hand, there’s conflicting information in different surveys about how much of the intended consumers are mainly interested in EVs, says Aktan. “The environmental side of EVs remains something still to be seen.”

Interestingly, the launch of TOGG has increased awareness towards EVs from different perspectives. “There is awareness and hope about EVs contributing to Turkey’s challenge of decreasing its dependency on foreign fuel resources. From our observation and interaction with subscribers and interested users, one common point is that EVs are found to be ‘cool’ and ‘sophisticated’, represent novelty and progress, and they are found to be ‘reputable’ due to their advanced technology, improved comfort and performance.” 

Many fleets in Turkey are eager to try EVs 

According to Aktan, Turkish companies are showing a notable interest towards electrification. 

Corporate fleets have shown considerable interest in electrification in Turkey. Many companies have adopted policies and key performance indicators (KPIs) to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability. However, transitioning to new technology without clearly understanding what works for their teams can be challenging for them, says Aktan.

“Corporate fleets, especially those not part of global organisations with prior knowledge of EVs, are looking for safe ways to try EVs before making long-term commitments. Many of these fleets approach Voltify to start with smaller numbers, appreciating the opportunity to test multiple makes and models before making informed decisions that benefit their operations."

One million EVs on the road by 2030

“With so much enthusiasm towards EVs, 2023 has exceeded our expectations”, says Aktan. Voltify leased almost all the EVs in its starting portfolio and amassed a substantial number of qualified leads. Another significant reaction came from OEMs, as several automakers in Turkey chose to partner with Voltify regarding supply and marketing. In the coming years, Aktan expects a surge in demand as Voltify expands its portfolio and the range of complimentary benefits. These include exclusive prices for charging if drivers choose a Voltify partner. 

The Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Ministry expects 1 million EVs on the roads by 2030. The future development of the Turkish EV market depends on the policy framework and the pace of investments in the EV ecosystem, says Aktan. 

“To establish a self-sufficient and sustainable mobility paradigm, there must be support for entrepreneurship, research and development, production, and collaboration. This support should extend beyond electric cars and include energy transformation, connectivity, digitalisation, and telemetry solutions. With these measures, we can expect EVs to account for over 20% of new car sales over the five years.”

The main photo shows Yasemin Ağırdır Aktan, the Co-founder and Marketing Director at Voltify.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen