July 25 (Reuters) – Turkish automaker Tofas (TOASO.IS) will develop the engine for an electric version of Fiat’s Doblo vehicle with Arcelik (ARCLK.IS) and be ready for production by mid-2011 if demand rises, Tofas said.
Tofas, in which Fiat (FIA.MI) and Turkish conglomerate Koc Holding (KCHOL.IS) each own 38 percent, plans to sell the car to European markets and could export it to the United States in the future, Tofas’s chief executive, Ali Pandir, told reporters.
Turkey’s automotive sector, the heart of its export industry, was hit last year by the sharp slowdown in key export markets in Europe and also weak domestic demand.
“Because we are the base for light commercial vehicle production and research and development, Fiat assigned the electrification of these vehicles to us,” Pandir said.
The cost of the electric Fiat Doblo EV prototype is put at 20 million euros ($25.75 million) and an investment of 5-10 million euros could be required for the manufacture of some 500-1,000 vehicles a year depending on demand from Europe.
“We will develop the electric engine together with Arcelik. Arcelik have know-how on the subject of electric engines and we have vehicle technology,” he said.
Turkey’s Arcelik is a household appliances manufacturer and Europe’s third-largest white goods maker. Conglomerate Koc owns some 40 percent of the company.
“We target mid-2011 for production (of the electric car), but it depends on market conditions,” said Tofas research and development director Kemal Yazici.
Tofas has for now shelved plans to export the regular Doblo to the United States due to market conditions, but could export the electric version if the market grows, Pandir said.
Tofas posted a net profit of 118.3 million lira in the first quarter, more than three times higher than the previous year’s profit, as its markets recovered from last year’s sharp decline. ($1=.7766 euros) (Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Greg Mahlich)