By Sinan Uslu and Ali Kemal Akan
ANKARA (AA) – Many countries have requested to have deals to sell Turkey’s first indigenous car, introduced last December, Turkish industry and technology minister said on Thursday.
"Currently, at least 10 countries have contacted me about the dealership," Mustafa Varank told reporters in parliament in the capital Ankara, adding that the offers mostly came from the Gulf countries, Central Asian countries and Germany.
He underlined there were also lots of offers, including purchasing the car, taking part in the production of its certain elements and contributing to the production process.
"There is a really big interest. We should not let down our citizens. We are carrying out our works to give the best respond to this interest," he said.
The minister also said that Turkey has not started the pre-order process yet.
He went on to say that the project is seen as a "locomotive" that will transform the automotive industry in the country.
Varank said that the Turkish-made car will be introduced with a "competitive price in its class", adding that the efforts to find the most suitable name for the car continue.
"Turkey's [indigenous] car is a project embraced by our citizens," he said.
In June 2018, five industrial giants: the Anadolu Group, BMC, Kok Group, Turkcell and Zorlu Holding as well as an umbrella organization, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, joined hands to create Turkey’s Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG).
TOGG will produce five different models — SUV, sedan, c-hatchback, b-SUV and b-MPV — until 2030 and own their intellectual and industrial property rights.
The factory's cost is expected to reach 22 billion Turkish liras ($3.7 billion). It will employ more than 4,300 staff, including 300 qualified personnel.
TOGG's electric vehicle platform, designed by TOGG engineers completely for all five models, will be original and patented.
The indigenous car will also be supported by the government with tax discounts and incentives.
– Effect of new coronavirus on trade
Answering a question on the effect of coronavirus on trade, Varank said that based on the assessment of international organizations, the economy of China is negatively affected due to the fatal virus, which will lead the world economy to be negatively affected as well.
However, Varank said the positive effects of the virus could be seen on Turkey in terms of posing as an alternative manufacturing base to China.
He said the supply companies abroad started showing more interest to manufacturers in Turkey.
"Of course, we do not want countries to experience such problems, but there is an ongoing economy in the world," he said, adding that if Turkey is tasked, it will be able to handle it.
Turkey is a country which can "produce almost at every sector", Varank said, and added that it is in a position to increase its capacity as an alternative to other countries.
The virus, which was first detected in December in the city of Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, has pushed the Chinese national death toll above 1,350 so far.
Economists expect that the virus will negatively affect the world economy by causing downfall or disruptions on several fields such as aviation, international trade and tourism.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev