ANKARA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- After a series of financial setbacks, Turkey is finally expected to unveil a prototype of its first indigenously manufactured automobile in December, a project personally backed and supervised by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish leader will make the first test drive of the national car during a ceremony to be held in mid-December at the Gebze industrial zone, 50 km south of Istanbul, pro-government Yeni Akit daily reported.
He also expected to reveal the name of the car which would be an electric SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) in the C segment, eagerly anticipated for years, according to the newspaper.
The prototype makes its debut to the public under the patronage of Turkey's five largest industrialists that have joined forces under Turkey's Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG) to build the car.
The process of building Turkey's first domestic automobile got a concrete boost in 2017 when Turkey's largest manufacturers and companies formed a consortium that includes Anadolu Group, BMC, Kok Group, Turkcell and Zorlu Holding.
The program is dear to the Turkish leader whose government backed plans for a national car brand. However, frustrated over delays and setbacks, Erdogan applied the screws to reluctant industrialists and pushed for the constitution of the actual consortium.
The project, regarded as a turning point in terms of the Turkish industry and technology, aims to create a comprehensive strategy that would provide a completely different position in the sector by monitoring technology and consumers.
The intellectual and industrial property rights of the project will be fully owned by Turkey. It is expected to contribute 50 billion euros (55.37 billion U.S. dollars) to the Turkish economy and create direct and indirect employment for up to 20,000 people, at a time when Turkey is recovering of a painful recession with a rising unemployment.
The indigenous automobile is said to be ready for mass production by 2022, with exports expected to begin two years later, a timetable that critics say may be difficult to fulfil.
In a recent speech, TOGG CEO Gurcan Karakas stated that Turkey will start to introduce the electric vehicle to the market in the middle of 2022. "We will enter the market in 2022 with an electric SUV in the C segment. We want to direct it to European Union-based export markets in a couple of years," he noted.
Automobile industry experts have adopted a cautious stance concerning Turkey's domestic car ambitions, warning that the most important phase would be the commercialization of the new vehicle.
"We will finally see the first concrete example of the indigenous car, nearly nine years after the project was announced. After that, the most difficult process will start," Emre Ozpeynirci, a veteran automobile expert said.
"Things will get very difficult in 2020 when it is said that the vehicle will be mass produced because there will be a ferocious competition especially regarding electric cars," he cautioned, pointing out that the project would have to get massive incentives from the government in order to be viable.
"Between 2020 and 2023, it is expected that nearly 100 new electric automobile models will be launched into the market, so the task for our national brand to enter the competition would be quite stressful," added Ozpeynirci.
However, sources familiar with the project have told Xinhua that "market researches have been made and it has been determined that there is growing demand in Turkey for C segment SUV's," implying that there should be no problems regarding the domestic commercialization of the vehicle.
Nevertheless, in Turkey, taxes imposed on hybrid and electric cars, a criteria considered critical by drivers, is much higher than EU states which could reduce the attractiveness of the national car, unless the government proceeds to a tax reduction in the coming years.
Yet, a survey conducted this year showed that the rate of Turkish drivers, who said they could buy an electric car in the next five years is at an encouraging 60 percent, above the world average.