Tofas working on two car projects, eyes N.America Doblo exports

ISTANBUL Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:00am GMT

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ISTANBUL Feb 10 (Reuters) - Turkish automaker Tofas is working on two new passenger car projects for domestic and export markets which are expected to be on the market by the end of 2015, its chief executive said.

Tofas, in which Italy's Fiat and Turkish conglomerate Koc Holding each own 38 percent, is also working on a feasibility study on exporting its light commercial vehicle Doblo to North America at the end of 2014.

"We are working on a technical study of two passenger car projects," Tofas CEO Kamil Basaran told reporters on Friday in comments embargoed until Sunday.

"I can confirm one is a sedan car in the B segment. At the same time, we are working on a second car project. Hopefully we can make a statement before July and give detailed numbers for volumes."

Tofas will own the patent rights for both cars which are expected to be sold under the Fiat brand, he said.

Turkey's automotive sector, the heart of its export industry, is trying to diversify its export markets as a sharp slowdown in key markets in Europe limits its growth prospects.

"Tofas has completed its study for plant and research and development for Doblo exports to North America. We are planning to export the Doblo at the end of 2014. We can expect 20,000 units once we start," Basaran said.

Tofas is targeting total sales of 270,000 vehicles, 160,000 of them for export, and planning to invest 130 million euros in products, plants and R&D this year, he said.

The company expects a flat domestic market this year compared with 2012 with 750,000 vehicles and a 13-15 percent market share, said Fiat Turkey Brand Director Okan Bas said. (Editing by Daren Butler and Robert Birsel)

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