Otokar manufactures the Cobra and Akrep military vehicles used by the Turkish police and army, which can be seen daily on the streets of Kurdish cities. Akrep and Cobra vehicles are used in the suppression of protest and in the daily attacks being waged against Kurdish communities.

In it’s 2017 Annual Report, the company boasted that it’s Cobra military vehicles were preferred by the Turkish Land Forces for border surveillance. This would suggest that they are deployed along the border with Rojava.

Otokar produces tanks, armoured vehicles, gun turret mounting systems and 4-wheel drive military vehicles. The company claims that it has the capacity to manufacture 11,600 combat vehicles per year. It was contracted to produce the design model of the Altay, Turkey’s new ‘national’ tank. The company boasts to it’s shareholders that it has an advantage in acquiring contracts for ‘national’ products from the Turkish state.

Participation in arms fairs

Otokar is a regular exhibitor at the biannual DSEI arms fair in east London.

Production of civilian buses

Otokar also produces buses for non-military use and is the biggest bus manufacturer in Turkey. The company is focusing on the UK and the rest of Europe as target markets. Otokar’s regional manager of sales of commercial vehicles, Sarp Alagölem, stated in an interview with a Polish trade publication: “In general, the countries of western Europe are very important and represent for us an important market.” Alagölem went on to try to use Otokar’s military experience as a selling point for its non-military buses: “We have buses and vehicle production for military use, so we use the highest production regimes.”

The company has recently supplied buses for public use in Malta, Jordan and Rumania. It has also supplied public buses for use in France, Italy, Germany, Serbia and Spain.

Otokar promotes itself at various exhibitions, including the Warsaw Bus Expo and the Eurobus Expo, held in Birmingham.

Otokar appears to be rebuilding bridges between the Koç holding company and the AKP after Erdoğan lambasted the company for sheltering anti-government protesters in one of it’s hotels. This is evidenced by Otokar obtaining the contract for the design of the new Turkish battle-tank, the Altay. The company tendered for the production of the tank too. Company chairman Ali Koç said in April 2016: “The mass production of the Altay tank is among the main agenda items in Otokar’s future goals.” He went on to say that the company is “ready for the job with… our passion to serve the best for our country.” However, the contract was eventually awarded to rival company, BMC.

Relationship with Jaguar Land Rover

The Land Rover Defender vehicle is produced under license by Otokar, and Otokar’s Akrep jeep is based on Land Rover Defender vehicles.

Take Action:

  • Protest Otokar’s participation in the DSEI arms fair. Taking place in September 2019 in London’s Docklands.
  • Pressure state and local authorities not to give Otokar tenders for the supply of public buses.
  • Protest outside Otaokar’s offices in France.

Basic company information:

Global Presence: Otokar products are used in 60 countries

Type of business: Subsidiary of Koç group

Business area: Military vehicles, tanks, buses (for civilian use)

Founded: 1963

Number of employees: 2,300

Ownership: 45% Owned by Koç Holding, Turkey’s largest holding company. 25% owned by Ünver Holding.

Traded on: Bursa Istanbul (BIST)

Revenues: $0.33 billion (2017), 31% was export revenue.

Net Profits: $18.76 million (2017)

People: Ali Koç (Chairman)

European address: Otokar Europe SAS, 24-26 Rue Du Noyer Parc Les Scientifiques de Roissy Lot A-3 95700 Roissy en France, FRANCE. Telephone +33 (0) 1 34 38 76 76

Website: www.otokar.com.tr