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Turkish JV to build new Fiats — and Chryslers?

by Bill Cawthon on

TOFAS-Plant-Art-Web
Automotive News’ European edition reports that the Tofaş (Türk Otomobil Fabrikası Anonim Şirketi) plant in Bursa, Turkey will invest $1 billion to build a new family of compact cars to replace the Fiat Bravo, which was discontinued in July of this year.

The Tofaş plant, which has 6,500 employees and a 400,000 vehicle/year capacity, is where the Ram ProMaster City will be built for the U.S. market. It’s a joint venture between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Koç Holding, Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate. FCA and Koç each own 37.8% of Tofaş with the remainder freefloating.

The Tofaş facility was awarded gold (top) level recognition under the FCA World Class Manufacturing program.

The new car family, scheduled to debut in 2016, will include a sedan, hatchback and station wagon, all based on the same FCA SCCS (Small Common Components & Systems) derived architecture that underpins the Fiat 500L, Fiat 500X and the Jeep Renegade. This is the platform originally developed by Fiat S.p.A. and GM’s Opel subsidiary for FWD/AWD vehicles.

While the article didn’t include any speculation on sales outside Europe, the timing is interesting as 2016 is also the year for the debut of the B-segment Chrysler compact. The Bravo was a C-segment car in Europe, but the Bravo (in hatchback form) was 21.6 inches shorter than the 200 and its only replacement as of now is the China-market-only Fiat Ottimo, a shortened hatchback version of the Dodge Dart. Also intriguing is Tofaş’ statement in a filing with the Turkish exchange: “A significant portion of the total units are slated for export. Talks with the Fiat Group Automobiles on the details for the conditions of investment, sales and procurement are in the final stage.”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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