In November 2017, Turkey rolled up its sleeves to design and manufacture its first indigenous automobile in a joint venture formed by five of the largest Turkish industrialists, all experienced in their own areas of operation. While the project continues at full speed with intensive public and private efforts, it is projected that the first domestic car will hit Turkish streets by 2022, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank told Sabah daily in an interview.
Recalling a recent meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who championed the project, Varank noted that the line-drawing phase has been completed and presented. The minister noted that the process in the domestic car began with the appointment of CEO Mehmet Gürcan Karakaş, who assumed the role in September 2018. "Business plans have been made, and the plans continue in accordance with the schedule," the industry and technology minister said.
The 15-year plan of the project envisions production of five models and three facelift versions, Varank said. The minister said the project is being carried out by the private sector, and they, as the government, are looking at how can they contribute and help.
Varank said three-dimensional drawings and engineering studies continue. He said a team of 40 engineers in the company is dealing with the research and development (R&D) dimension of the project, saying that the group is expected to reach 300 by the end of the year.
"The joint venture group will release this model by catching up with the era and exploring the window of opportunity," Varank noted. "I believe this model will be quite popular. I do not think there will be a market shortage because the vehicle will be the best electric car in its class. For this purpose, we will carry out procedures related to the infrastructure of electric vehicles in Turkey as soon as possible."
Five domestic firms - Anadolu Group, BMC, Kök Group, Türkcell and Zorlu Holding, with 19 percent of shares each and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) with 5 percent of shares, will jointly lead the joint venture Turkey's Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG).
Stressing that export will also be possible since the automobile will match contemporary requirements and trends, Varank said they have received positive responses from citizens, public institutions and nongovernmental organizations in this regard.
"With the introduction of electric cars, technology is rapidly evolving in areas such as driving techniques, smart city planning and automobile software. Upon switching to the electric car, the whole industry began to change. Therefore, we see Turkey's automobile project not only as an automobile project but also as a project that will transform the entire industry and the automotive industry in Turkey." Suggesting that the mobility ecosystem that will develop in the transformation of the automotive sector will also create an important opportunity for Turkey in the development of new technologies, Varank noted that this is not just an R&D project, but also a project to create a brand, so to speak.