An Interview with IKCO Ashkhabad CEO
IKCO the Oldest non-Russian Carmaker in Ashkhabad
Iran's seventh exclusive exhibition in Turkmenistan, February 26 to March 01, opened at the presence of the two countries' high-ranking officials. They paid a visit to IKCO's pavilion right after the opening ceremony. Turkmen officials warmly welcomed IKCO cars, specially Runna. They also had a meeting with IKCO Ashkhabad CEO. IKCO presence at this vent was covered by the media of Turkmenistan.
During the visit we had an interview with Hamid Reza Naghashian, the 46 year old CEO of IKCO Ashkhabad to know the company better and to have more information about the car market in Turkmenistan. He started his career in IKCO in 2003 in the sales department. He has undertaken different positions in IKCO so far. He was appointed as IKCO Ashkhabad CEO last year. Our interview comes here-in-below.
When did IKCO Ashkhabad come into existence and what was its goal?
The company was established in the capital city of Turkmenistan in 1997 to introduce IKCO as Iran industry's representative. At the beginning, due to the good relationship between Iran and Turkmenistan, great amount of activities took place in this company. But later on, some trade policies and restrictions limited these activities.
What is your main activity and how far does is go beyond the boundries?
Currently we import cars in CBU form from Iran to Turkmenistan. IKCO has managed to pave the ground and build a good business field between the two countries and now we can see a bright and promising future in front of us. The activity of the company is limited to the countries of the Eastern part of the Caspian Sea including Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan we have a wide range activity among which we can refer to presenting CNG taxis and passenger cars.
What do Turkmen people think about IKCO products? Have been there any evaluation so far?
Fortunately, new products like Samand, Soren, and Peugeot 206 have created a positive point of view toward IKCO products in Turkmenistan. Suitable after-sales service and on-time supply of spare parts has added to this popularity. IKCO cars enjoy a good stand among Turkmen people and officials.
Which one of IKCO products is Turkmen's favorite car?
Samand, Peugeot Pars and Peugeot 206 are the most wanted ones. Of course Peugeot 405 has been sold in this market but it is not as popular as the previous ones.
It is the first time Runna is presented in Ashkhabad. How were the reactions toward it?
This new IKCO brand sedan has fortunately drawn the attention of Turkmen officials. Regarding the good reception of Runna by Turkmen people and officials, we hope to have a growing market for this car in Turkmenistan.
What is the future prospect of Iran Khodro Ashkhabad?
Our efforts focus on presenting and selling IKCO products. Obviously we do our best to do this job in the best way possible. Regarding the presence of foreign competitors in this country, we are trying to improve our after-sales service and on-time supply of spare parts to add to the number of IKCO customers. Maintaining the market and customers satisfaction are our main targets.
What are IKCO's main competitors in Turkmenistan?
Due to their income level, Turkmen people go for second-hand cars. The most popular brands in Turkmenistan are Toyota, Kia and Daewoo. In brand new cars, Uz-Daewoo form Uzbekistan is IKCO's main competitor in this country.
Has Uzbekistan established any Daewoo production line in this country?
No, it has not. Uz-Daewoo is imported to Turkmenistan in CBU form.
What are the criteria Turkmen customers consider more when bying a car?
The most important thing to Turkmen people is the quality of the cars. After that they care about good after-sales service. Following these two main characteristics come the reasonable price, powerful engine and spacious cockpit.
How do you evaluate the after-sales service of IKCO Ashkhabad in comparison with other foreign companies active in Turkmenistan?
Since most of the cars imported to Turkmenistan are second-hand cars, they do not have any specific after-sales service center. IKCO Ashkhabad is the oldest non-Russian car sales and after-sales service company in Turkmenistan. IKCO is also the oldest non-Russian carmaker in this region that enjoys good potentialities both in human resource and equipment. If we provide high quality services at a higher speed, the customers will prefer to buy our cars and use our services.
Have you ever evaluated the quality of after-sales service you provide, the service centers and your customers' satisfaction?
Yes, we frequently evaluate our performance. We try to improve indices like the quality, the speed and the price of services. Surveys indicate that our performance is acceptable. But we won't stop at this level and do our best to improve it.
Have you ever faced any serious problem in supplying parts?
When you are doing something, you will more or less experience problems and that is natural. Fortunately we haven't had severe problems so far. Although there may be some stop or delay due to sanctions and restrictions, we try harder and manage to achieve our goals.
Is there any competitor for these prices?
Yes, Daewoo Nexia is a rival that is sold for 8500 dollars, but its producer doesn't provide suitable after-sales service that brings about customers dissatisfaction. They do not have any skilled technical personnel. On the contrary, IKCO Ashkhabad enjoys good reputation.
Do you have any plan to sell Samand taxies in Turkmenistan?
Yes, we realized that there is a positive point of view from Turkmen government toward Iranian products. On this basis we decided to offer a major contract to the Transportation Ministry of Turkmenistan. Our studies and analysis indicate that public transportation services are of great importance to the Turkmen officials and there is a big market and great opportunity ahead. We aim to enter this sector so we proposed our idea. Now we hope that two sides come to an agreement and this contract be inked.
Are the market demands well treated and satisfied?
We have had great supports from IKCO deputy CEO in export so far and achieved success in most of fields.