November 2, 2017 / 2:39 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Turkey's Erdogan rolls out plan for locally made car by 2021

(Adds names of the five companies in the consortium, quotes)

By Daren Butler and Ezgi Erkoyun

ISTANBUL, Nov 2 (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan unveiled plans on Thursday to launch a car made entirely in Turkey by 2021, casting it as a long-harboured dream of the Turkish people and promising to be the first in line to buy one of the new vehicles.

While Turkey is a large exporter of vehicles into Europe, the cars are made by global autos firms, usually in joint ventures with local partners.

For years Erdogan’s ruling AK Party has held a goal of bringing about the production of a home-grown car, seeing it as proof of the country’s growing economic might.

Erdogan said a consortium of five firms - including mobile phone operator Turkcell and the parent of TV maker Vestel - had been selected to produce the car, referring to them as “five brave fellows”.

“We don’t want any delays in this project and we will not tolerate any loss of time,” Erdogan said, adding the prototype would be completed by 2019 at the latest.

“I will be the first customer for the new car, under the condition that I am going to pay for it.”

Analysts, however, were less than enthusiastic, citing the competitiveness of the industry and relative lack of experience of some members of the consortium.

“This is a good intention but there is a long way ahead,” said Cemal Demirtas, head of research at Ata Invest. “This group is not an experienced group in automotives. Can this group produce it? How will they cooperate? The competition is fierce in the sector and abroad.”

In addition to Turkcell, and Vestel parent Zorlu Holding, consortium partners include conglomerates Anadolu Holding, Kiraca Holding and the Turkey-Qatar partnership BMC Group, Erdogan said.

Related shares initially surged on the news, before reversing course and tumbling into negative territory, as apparent investor scepticism set in.

Anadolu Isuzu, the carmaker unit of Anadolu Holding, fell 8 percent. Karsan, the auto unit of Kiraca Holding, dropped 2 percent. Shares of Turkcell - which Erdogan said would supply some of the technical expertise to the project - fell 4.6 percent.

Vestel, a major maker of televisions and home electronics, fell 11 percent. (Additional reporting by Birsen Altayli and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Dominic Evans and Mark Potter)

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