Spotlight: Turkey's 1st indigenous car project sees milestone step

Source: Xinhua| 2018-06-11 00:20:22|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ANKARA, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's plan to produce its first domestic car capable of competing globally has witnessed a breakthrough, as five Turkish firms have signed partnership deals to complete the mission hand in hand.

Five local firms, including Anadolu Group, BMC, Kok Group, Turkcell and Zorlu Holding, together with the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, have agreed to cooperate on completing the task.

A joint statement issued last week said the the group has been named Turkey's Automobile Initiative Group, according to the state-run Anadolu News Agency.

Mehmet Gurcan Karakas, a Turkish engineer and former senior manager at German technology giant Bosch, was appointed as CEO of the new company and would take on his new job in September.

"With this project, I am happy to have the opportunity to transfer my knowledge and experience in the global market to my country. Turkey will produce a competitive brand in the global market," Karakas said in a statement.

Faruk Ozlu, Turkish Minister for Science, Industry and Technology, called the new project a "technological breakthrough for the country," revealing that Turkey will invest 3.7 billion U.S. dollars in it.

"The government and the ministry will provide the necessary support, especially in research and development, design and production operations, and make the necessary arrangements for the establishment of infrastructure for electric vehicles in Turkey," Ozlu was quoted as saying by Anadolu.

In a separate interview with the private TGRT broadcaster, the minister expected that the facility to be built will have an annual production capacity of 200,000 cars.

"Within this project, we will create 4,000 direct and 20,000 indirect jobs," Ozlu said.

Furthermore, the indigenous car project is essential to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking a second presidential term in the upcoming elections on June 24.

The car project is one of the most ambitious ones in recent years launched by the Turkish leader, who repeated his "dream" of a national car brand despite several years of delay because of financial and organizational trouble.

He has discussed possible production with Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk last year. Qatar is also reported to be one of the investors of the project, although it has not been officially confirmed.

Last November, Erdogan announced that the prototype of the first domestically produced car, expected to be produced in Ankara, would be ready in 2019 and enter the market by 2021.

The production should start with sedan cars; to do so, Turkey has acquired a license for the Saab 9-3 platform, the president said.

"I want to own the first automobile (produced), provided that I will pay for it. No one should hesitate. We will produce Turkey's car with the best design and technology, both for our country and the world," said Erdogan.

Yet there is still a long and winding road to go until the first car is produced. Experts think that the project should gear up to meet the deadline.

"Yes, this time Turkey is exerting important efforts towards a domestic car and the fact that it will be a hybrid one is also a substantial move forward but the process seems to advance slowly," said Emre Ozpeynirci, an expert on car industry in his column in Hurriyet daily.

"Turkey lacks experienced staff on electric car production, considering this fact, will the prototype be ready in 2019 and mass production in 2021?" He cautiously asked, pointing out that other managers of the project, besides the CEO, should be appointed as soon as possible.

Turkey attempted to produce its first domestic car in 1961, known as the Devrim (Revolution), which failed. The production has been halted ever since.

Although Turkey does not have its own car brand, the country is a huge manufacturer for industry giants such as Renault, Ford and Toyota, with the European continent being the top market for the cars produced in Turkey.