Ford JV starts production of all-electric Transit model in Turkey

Ford Otosan, a joint venture of the U.S. automaker and Turkey’s largest conglomerate Koç Holding, has begun mass production of its all-electric Transit model via a 2 billion euro ($2.2 billion) investment to increase capacity.

The first E-Transit, which the carmaker says is Europe’s strongest and Turkey’s first all-electric commercial vehicle, rolled off the assembly line in a ceremony on Thursday at Ford Otosan’s Gölcük plant in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.

Ford Otosan thus became the first major automotive company to produce an all-electric vehicle in Turkey in large volume, with the E-Transit model to be sold in Europe and produced at the company’s Gölcük plant.

Ford Otosan will raise the factory’s annual vehicle capacity to 650,000 from 455,000 under the 2 billion euro investment announced in 2020.

An assembly line will be established to produce at least 130,000 batteries in the factory.

“We are at the first stage of Ford Otosan’s 2 billion euro investment announced last year and its 10-year vision,” said Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank.

“Today, we are talking about a rapid transformation in the automotive industry. In 2030, 30% of the world’s vehicles will be electric and connected vehicles,”he said at the ceremony.

Varank also said Turkey is among the 14 manufacturers globally with its production power in the automotive industry.

“Our country aspires to take the lion’s share of the electric vehicle market.”

On Thursday, the carmaker said it is now shipping the first production units of the E-Transit van to customers across Europe from the Ford Otosan factory.

Following strong early demand for E-Transit from European businesses, Ford Otosan said it is now moving to full mass production.

Ford officials said more than 5,000 orders had been received for the fully electric vehicle, now being sold in Europe. Sales of the vehicle in the domestic market will also begin this year.

“Ford Otosan’s Kocaeli plant is the heart of Transit production in Europe, and this celebration of E-Transit manufacturing starts the electrified next chapter in our already strong partnership,” said Hans Schep, general manager of Ford Pro Europe.

Schep said this is the first step in transforming the Kocaeli site, which he said will see it become a major center for electric commercial vehicle manufacturing in Europe.

Also addressing the ceremony, Ali Koç, deputy chair of Koç Holding’s board of directors and Ford Otosan’s chairperson, said the production of Ford Europe’s first electric commercial model E-Transit in Turkey by Turkish engineers and workers “is the result of industrialization moves that have been growing step by step since the first years of the Republic of Turkey.”

Koç said Ford Otosan’s recent investments have a common purpose, which is to further increase the competitiveness of Turkey on a global scale today and in the future.

“In this direction, we plan to make our automotive industry one of the most important and indispensable players in the global production network together with our ever-developing subsidiary industry ecosystem.”

E-Transit is the all-electric version of the world’s best-selling cargo van and the new vehicle spearheads Ford Pro’s launch to European customers with an integrated offering of vehicles, software and connected services.

For his part, Güven Özyurt, general manager of Ford Otosan, said production of E-Transit in their Kocaeli plant, where the electricity is supplied with 100% renewable energy, “is a source of pride for us and another turning point in our increasing role in Ford’s electrification strategy.”

“We believe that electrification of the legendary Transit model is a major development and an important step for making Ford Otosan the production base of Ford electrified commercial vehicles.”

To meet the demand for future electrified Ford models, Ford Otosan is investing 2 billion euros and expanding employment by around 3,000 to increase vehicle production capacity, including the next-generation Transit Custom model.

Ford’s move to an all-electric future in Europe was also highlighted by the recent announcement that Ford, Korean battery maker SK On and Koç Holding have signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a new, industry-leading joint venture in Turkey.

Subject to a final agreement, the three partners plan to create one of the largest electric vehicle battery facilities in the wider European region. Production is intended to start as early as mid-decade, with an annual capacity likely to be around 30 gigawatt-hours to 45 gigawatt-hours.


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