President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unveiled a prototype of Turkey's first domestically produced vehicle on Friday, taking the country a step forward to realizing a long-held dream of manufacturing a national car.
Read more: Tomorrow's transportation will be electric and shared
"Today we are witnessing a historical day for our country, witnessing Turkey's dream for 60 years come true," Erdogan said at a ceremony at a technology hub in the industrial Gebze district near Istanbul.
Turkey has a large auto manufacturing sector with international players Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Renault, Toyota and Hyundai all operating in the country. But at these facilities, Turkish workers are assembling cars and parts designed and conceived far away, often exporting the finished models to Europe.
"We have been saying for years that Turkey needs to produce its own car, that we deserve better than being assemblers," Erdogan said. "Turkey has become a country which is not only a market for new technologies but also a country which develops, produces and exports them to the world."
He later posted a video on Twitter of him test driving one of the cars, saying he would reserve one for himself.
Read more: Volkswagen to spend €60 billion on switch to electric cars
Turkey's Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG), a joint venture of five holding companies and a business union, plans to produce five electric car models over the next 15 years.
Two models were unveiled on Friday, an electric light SUV and sedan.
A planned factory in Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city, south of Istanbul, is expected to produce up to 175,000 of the SUV and sedan units per year by 2022, just a year before national elections and the hundredth anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
Read more: VW delays decision to open plant in Turkey
The project is expected to cost 22 billion lira ($3.7 billion or €3.3 billion) over 13 years and employ 4,000 workers.
The government will provide land for the production facility, tax exemptions and a purchase guarantee of 30,000 cars per year until the end of 2035, according to the official decree.
TOGG's CEO is former Bosch executive Gurcan Karakas and its chief operating officer is Sergio Rocha, former General Motors Korea chief executive.
cw/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.