Currently, it is conducting a major advancement for its automobile industry. The first ever Turkish-developed and Turkish-made car is going into production by Turkey’s Automobile Joint Venture Group (TOGG).
The new TOGG car factory started operations on October 29. The date conveys a clear message as it marks the 99th anniversary of the Turkish Republic’s foundation.
TOGG was first founded to make Turkey more independent from foreign automakers in 2018.
“It is an important step contributing to the rise of Turkey’s car industry,” says Emre Özpeynirci, a journalist and automotive expert, who closely follows the TOGG project.
The plan for next year is to manufacture some 17,000-18,000 EVs at TOGG’s factory near Istanbul. The site is built for a capacity of about 175,000 cars per year, a target that decision-makers want to achieve in the next five years.
Public divided over TOGG
Although the TOGG factory is starting production now, it may take time before the vehicles reach the market. The company anticipates that the first cars will be ready by March 2023 — a few months before the presidential election.
The TOGG car’s failure or success could impact the vote, as the vehicle is widely seen as a project by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The TOGG automobile is promoted as the “people’s car.” When the project was launched by the President, people “expected this would be a car affordable to everyone in Turkey,” says Özpeynirci.
Critics of President Erdogan and his party, the AKP, are certain he’s using TOGG to raise his chances of re-election. “Of course investments like these are always supported by the state, but if there are political tensions, this will harm the project before [a single] car is even built,” said Özpeynirci.
“It is a big problem, this car polarizes [opinions],” Özpeynirci added.
TOGG plans to sell its SUV at 900,000 Turkish lira ($48,361), which is not affordable for most people in Turkey.
Özpeynirci state that ordinary consumers could invest no more than 500,000 lira ($26,867) for a new car. A more affordable model will follow in one or two years.
Potential buyers may not only be disappointed by the high retail price. In addition, Turkish EV owners lack the necessary infrastructure.
“Turkey’s infrastructure is not yet ready to make the switch to e-cars,” says Automotive Data CEO Hüsamettin Yalçın.
According to Yalçın, people should not worry about whether there will be enough charging stations on the way from Ankara to Istanbul.
While TOGG vehicles are produced in Turkey, components like engines, batteries, and a few electric systems are imported.
51% of the materials used to build the vehicles are Turkish-made. Industry minister Mustafa Varank said he wants to raise this to 65% in upcoming years.
For now, TOGG cars are built for the domestic market. This comes partly from the combination of components used to build the car, which spikes up production costs, says Özpeynirci.
He says if TOGG succeeds in using 70% Turkish-made components, its cars will be internationally competitive.