Bosch has been manufacturing in Turkey for five decades now. It all began in 1972 in the industrial area of Bursa, a city in the west of the country, where Bosch had built a small facility to produce diesel components for commercial vehicles.
A historic event
The opening ceremony was small and simple, with 150 guests from the worlds of politics and business invited from Ankara, Istanbul, and Bursa itself. The first Bosch factory on Turkish soil was officially opened in Bursa on May 3, 1973. On that day, no one knew how significant the plant would become for Bosch.
There were two good reasons for the company to start manufacturing in Turkey: First, the number of vehicles in the country had grown enormously, more than doubling from almost 200,000 in 1966 to around 500,000 in 1972. The figures for commercial vehicles, for which Bosch initially produced components in Turkey, were equally high.
A promising market had opened up for global automotive suppliers. Second, Bosch was already familiar with the country, having begun to sell many of its products there back in 1910. However, most of them had to be imported from Germany. When Turkey continually increased customs duties on imported goods in the 1960s, Bosch decided to look for a solution.
From nozzles to assembly systems
This marked the birth of the idea to set up production in the country. However, challenging economic conditions in the early years made it difficult to gain significant momentum straight away. It was not until the 1980s, following a political and economic transition in Turkey, that the diesel components business really took off, and Bosch was soon to become one of the leading suppliers of commercial vehicle parts on the Turkish market. The business grew, prompting the company to begin manufacturing entire diesel injection pumps in 1986 in addition to nozzles and nozzle holders.
The Bursa plant not only added new products to its range — it also continually repositioned itself. Alongside its production activities, the location gained more and more engineering tasks and then took over international product responsibility for commercial vehicle parts. In 1996, a second factory was opened at the site and initially made windshield wiper systems and generators. Today, it produces brake components. 2009 saw the Bursa plant start to produce high-pressure injection valves for gasoline engines, while the ATMO division, now Bosch Manufacturing Solutions, began making assembly systems and special-purpose machinery at the location. Bosch Rexroth has also been manufacturing hydraulics products at the industrial site since 2006.
Bosch’s production activities in Turkey also include thermotechnology. In 1990, the Junkers division joined forces with the Turkish company Elginkan Holding to establish the joint venture ELBO, which began producing gas-fired boilers and water heaters in Manisa in 1992. Today, the plant is also home to a research and development unit.
As if that were not enough, Bosch took over the well-known manufacturer of household appliances in Turkey, PEG Profilo based in Çerkezköy, in 1995. As a result, the company now produces household appliances of other brands in Turkey, including Bosch, Siemens, Balay, and Gaggenau. Today, its location includes a new dishwasher factory and a research and development unit.
The Bursa site has continued to increase its production capabilities for the automotive sector. Now comprising three plants, it supplies the entire automotive industry today with products such as a new generation of high-pressure pumps for gasoline engines, which are made using state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 applications equipped with precision adjustment and measurement systems, laser welding systems, and intelligent camera systems.
Since the first Bosch plant was inaugurated on Turkish soil in 1973, Bursa has grown into one of the company’s largest and most important locations worldwide, with around 6,500 associates. The plant has received multiple awards for the quality of its products — which it delivers to customers around the globe. Today, most of the almost 15 million vehicles on Turkish roads have Bosch technology under the hood.
I have been working in the Corporate Archives of Robert Bosch GmbH for 18 years. I am responsible for the historical photo and art collection, picture editing and event organization. Furthermore I am writing and reappraising the history of Bosch in France, Benelux, Italy and Turkey. After studying art history, I was in charge of the photo and film collection of the Stuttgart City Archive, among other things.