Bahattin Topcu takes over as managing director of Middle East & Africa at Ford Trucks
Bahattin Topcu has taken over as managing director-Middle East & Africa, Ford Trucks, from Mustafa Caner Sinanoğlu, who has moved to a new position in the company as managing director-France, Ford Trucks International.
Having started his career with Ford Otosan in Turkey in 2006, Bahattin served as regional manager for North Africa and Eastern Europe, assigning dealers in markets such as Morocco and Ukraine and expanding operations in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and Algeria. Subsequently, he switched to marketing and became a product specialist.
Between 2009 and 2019, Bahattin served in various marketing positions that led to his most recent tenure as head of marketing for all Ford Trucks markets. His career highlight during this period was driving customization of Ford trucks for specific market requirements such as the harsh environmental conditions in the Middle East where trucks are exposed to high temperature and sand throughout the year. This also enabled him to lead the product development and marketing of the F-MAX, which won the 2019 International Truck of the Year (ITOY) award at the 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicles expo in Germany, where it was launched globally.
“Developing the F-MAX for five years and winning the ITOY award has certainly been a highlight of my career. It was all the more satisfying because, previously, we participated twice and was ranked in the third place. The worldwide recognition for the F-MAX is been a manifestation of our product design, engineering and marketing competencies, raising our profile among the elite club of European truck brands. My journey with the F-MAX has helped me learn a lot about market expectations with the technical feedback we received from the ITOY jury and customers.”
The GCC remains an important market for Ford Trucks. Having a current market share of 5%, the manufacturer aims to achieve double-digit market share in the next three years. Bahattin shares his growth projections for the GCC.
“During its boom years, the GCC had a market potential of 20,000 units for trucks, and the UAE alone had a major share of 6,000 units. We may not get such demand in the near future, but we expect it to climb steadily in the next few years. Ford Trucks was a new entrant five years ago, but now we have a strong presence with our distribution network and a growing customer base. The Ford Trucks team led by Mustafa has built a strong foundation for our growth strategy, and now we have a better understanding of specific customer requirements than we did five years ago, which enables us to move to the next phase of expansion,” says Bahattin.
“We believe our market penetration target is achievable because we continue to invest in R&D, product development and after-sales services to offer customized solutions in this region. We have competitive offerings for all our target markets including long-haul transportation, construction and waste management. We believe it is necessary to offer transportation solutions to all sectors, because of the cyclical nature of each of these sectors. Furthermore, fleet operators tend to have businesses in multiple sectors. Therefore, we want to be a one-stop-shop for any trucking application,” he adds.
In an era where start-up companies are disrupting the trucking industry and concept trucks are being introduced within 2–3 years, the conventional product development cycle has been shortened presenting a new challenge to conventional truck manufacturers, who face the pressure of launching new models faster than ever before. Bahattin comments on the product development strategy at Ford Trucks and their progress in building the next generation of Ford trucks.
“In the past, we had competition from similar types of traditional truck manufacturers, but that is changing with the entry of start-ups and disruptors such as Tesla. Generally, we introduce minor upgrades every two years, and a major upgrade every five years. With increasing customer demands and competition, we need to introduce upgrades more frequently. Therefore, traditional truck manufacturers are being forced to think and act like start-ups and become more agile. We understand this trend, and therefore, our business transformation is set up for agility, supported by our strong product development team of over 1,000 engineers,” says Bahattin.
One of the dominating factors driving product development at Ford Trucks is alternative energy. The manufacturer has developed an electric truck prototype, which will start customer trials in Turkey in 2020.
“We’re also working on developing trucks with SAE level 4 autonomy, increased connectivity and data analytics. We launched the smart ConnectTruck system for the F-MAX in Europe, which enables remote monitoring of the vehicle, analyses road conditions and maintains optimum speeds. These technologies and more will be unveiled in our ‘Future Truck’ concept at the 2020 IAA Commercial Vehicles expo,” says Bahattin.