Turkey's first domestically manufactured automobile, expected to hit Turkish streets in the second half of 2022, will be a fully electric vehicle with a 500-kilometer range, according to Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank. "We will set forth our own automobile as a project to fully compete with its competitors and create an ecosystem within this scope," Varank told reporters during iftar, a fast-breaking dinner, on Sunday. "We do not see it as just an automobile project. There is great transformation in the world, and the automobile industry also experiences this change and transformation in the fastest way," he said, stressing that as a technology project, Turkey's automobile would transform the automotive industry and make it competitive with other countries.
"With its electric engine, software, autonomous driving and battery technologies, the automobile industry is turning in a completely different direction. With this project, we believe we have caught this window of opportunity at the right time," he continued.
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.
Five domestic firms - Anadolu Group, BMC, Kök Group, Türkcell and Zorlu Holding, with 19% shares each, and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) with 5% of the shares - will jointly lead the joint venture Turkey's Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG).
The industry and technology minister said the prototype for the locally produced car is likely to be unveiled at the end of 2019.
"Probably, the car will be offered for sale and hit the roads in the second half of 2022. People are waiting for this car. It looks like there will be demand for it," he added.
Varank also stated they would soon announce the location of the research and development (R&D) center. "If you want to make an investment, you prefer the closest location to the supplier. So, you want to choose an area where you can use the ecosystem in the most efficient way," he noted. "The talks are in progress about the location of the factory. We will not disclose information on the subject due to commercial confidentiality. We are not unveiling the segment of the first model either. However, they [the joint venture group] plan to come up with a price that will compete in global markets with all models."
Varank last week said 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. The 15-year plan of the project envisions the production of five models and three facelift versions, Varank had said.
Stressing that exports 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 (NGOs) in this regard.
According to the minister, three-dimensional drawings and engineering studies continue. He said a team of 40 engineers in the company is dealing with the R&D dimension of the project, saying that the group is expected to reach 300 by the end of the year.