Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday unveiled prototypes of a domestically produced electric car, putting him closer to fulfilling a long-held dream of building Turkey's first "national" automobile.
Erdogan showcased the SUV and sedan models of the car, known for now as TOGG after a consortium of Turkish companies that will produce them, at a ceremony in Gebze, in Turkey's northwestern industrial heartland.
The president was scheduled to test drive a car across a suspension bridge over the Gulf of Izmit. He offered to put his name down on a possible list for advance orders. The Turkish vehicles are expected to hit the market in 2022.
"We are witnessing a historic day, realizing a 60-year dream," Erdogan said. "I know that our people is impatiently waiting for the day they can own this car."
The Turkish leader has long pushed industrialists to build a domestic automobile as part of his vision for making Turkey an economic powerhouse.
The vehicle is being produced by a consortium of five Turkish companies called the Automobile Initiative Group of Turkey, or TOGG, in cooperation with the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges.
Turkish media reports said the car was designed by Italy's Pininfarina design company, which has created models for Ferrari and California-based electric car maker Karma.
Erdogan said the cars would be produced in a factory to be built on former military-owned land in the province of Bursa. The factory, scheduled to be completed in 2021, is expected to employ 4,300 people.
TOGG cheif executive Gurcan Karakas said Turkey hopes to produce five different models of the car within 15 years.
The TOGG is Turkey's second effort to produce a Turkish-made automobile. During the 1960s, a group of Turkish engineers built prototypes of a car called Devrim, or Revolution in English,. The project was later abandoned.
Several foreign brands, including Ford and Toyota, are assembled in Turkey.
Automaker Volkswagen is raising the bar for its plunge into battery powered cars, saying it will reach its goal of 1 million electric cars per year two years earlier than planned. The announcement Friday comes as European automakers are under pressure to meet lower emissions limits aimed at fighting global warming.
The Wolfsburg-based automaker said that its core Volkswagen brand would turn out a million battery-only cars by the end of 2023 instead of end 2025, and would reach 1.5 million by the end of 2025.
Those numbers are a stark contrast to this year's production of more than 70,000 e-cars and last year's total of 50,000. Volkswagen is planning to raise its production and sales numbers by introducing the ID.3, a battery model the company says will have the low price and longer range needed to transform such cars from a niche product to one with mass acceptance. The ID.3 base model will cost under 30,000 euros ($33,500) and travel 330 to 550 kilometers (205 to 340 miles) on a single charge.
European carmakers must meet tougher limits on fleet average emissions of carbon dioxide from 2021 or face heavy fines. Analysts and carmakers say the only way they can do that is to significantly increase their sales of electrics. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for global warming. The new limit of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer was set by the European Union to help meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accords aimed at limiting the global rise in temperature.
The company showed off the ID.3 at the Frankfurt auto show in September and will start delivering it to customers next year. It says it can make 330,000 per year at its factory in Zwickau in eastern Germany.
The Russian Aerospace Forces on Friday successfully launched a Rokot carrier rocket with a retroreflector BLITS-M satellite and a group of Gonets-M communications satellites, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The launch was carried out at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia's northwestern Arkhangelsk region, it added.
The Gonets satellite system, the operator of Russian satellite communication and relaying systems made by order of the state space corporation Roscosmos, said in a separate statement that three Gonets-M satellites were launched.
Since its first launch in May 2000, Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted 31 launches of the Rokot rocket, putting into orbit some 70 spacecraft, the ministry said.
BLITS-M (Ball Lens in the Space) is a series of small satellites used for laser ranging experiments.
China launched the third Long March-5, the largest carrier rocket of the country, from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China's Hainan Province on Friday evening.
The rocket, coded as Long March-5 Y3, blasted off from the coastal launch center at 8:45 p.m. (Beijing time), carrying the Shijian-20 technological experiment satellite weighing over eight tonnes, the heaviest and most advanced communications satellite of the country.
About 2,220 seconds later, the satellite was sent into its planned orbit.