Ford Otosan to celebrate plant inauguration with Turkish PM

Ford Otosan to celebrate plant inauguration with Turkish PM

Emre Özpeynirci ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Ford Otosan to celebrate plant inauguration with Turkish PM

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) is seen presenting an award to Ford Otosan Chairman Ali Koç in this Dec 1, 2013 file photo.

Ford Otosan’s $670-million new plant in Istanbul’s Yeniköy neighborhood will be inaugurated on May 22 with a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ford Chairman Bill Ford.

The Turkey-based automaker, in which Ford Motor Company and Koç Holding have equal stakes, will celebrate the opening of its third facility in the country, amounting to a total investment of 487 million euros ($670 million), Ford Otosan CEO Haydar Yenigün announced in a meeting with reporters.

The ceremony may mark a thaw in the frosty relations between the prime minister and Koç Holding, which controls half of Ford Otosan.

The ceremony date was scheduled as May 23 but it has been moved forward by one day after Prime Minister Erdoğan accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony from Koç Holding Chairman Mustafa Koç and Koç Holding Board Member Ali Koç.

Erdoğan is known to have strained relations with the group, particularly since last summer’s anti-government Gezi Park protests. A contract for Koç Holding to produce six corvette ships was cancelled after Erdoğan publicly slammed the group for allegedly supporting the protests, especially for opening Istanbul’s Divan Hotel to protesters escaping police violence.

A leaked audio recording was posted on social media ahead of the March 30 elections, allegedly showing Erdoğan intervening to cancel a tender that had been won by the group.

Mustafa Koç became the target of harsh criticism from Erdoğan after the leak of another recording allegedly between Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and a member of his business network, supposedly revealing the link between Gülen and Koç.

After meeting with the two leading figures of the family at the beginning of March, Erdoğan had said the only item on the agenda of the meeting was the opening ceremony of the Yeniköy plant.

The prime minister will also have a meeting with Ford Executive Chariman Bill Ford after the ceremony.

Commercial vehicle hub

Ford’s newest light commercial vehicles, the Tourneo Courier and the Transit Courier, will be produced at the 110,000 unit-capacity plant.

Ford aims to produce around 50,000 Couriers this year, and aims to capture a 30 percent share in its class in the domestic market.

Around 371 million euros of the new plant’s cost has been undertaken by Ford Otosan, while sub-industries invested 116 million euros.

With the start of activities at the Yeniköy plant, Ford Otosan’s production capacity has risen to 415,000 per year, increasing Ford’s share in Turkey’s commercial vehicle production to 57 percent and in commercial vehicle exports to 61 percent.

The company has also plants in the northwestern provinces of Eskisehir and Kocaeli.