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By Memduh Taslicali, Istanbul

As Turkey becomes a base for automotive investments, Turkish companies are seeking to import increasingly popular Chinese cars.

Forty consortiums, including Anadolu, Sanko and Bayraktar, are competing to become the next big distributor of inexpensive Chinese cars ranging from 15,000 to 17,000 YTL (about $11,00).

Turkish firms flocked to the Beijing Auto Show last week to make contacts and negotiate privileges on the sale and after-sale services of Chinese brands.

Executives from Otokoc, a Koc Holding affiliate which sells Ford, Fiat and Alfa Romeo, Temsa, Anadolu Group, Sanko Group, Mermerler Group, Turkey’s largest Ford dealer Sahsuvaroglu, and Opel dealer Gokcenler closely reviewed Chinese innovations at the fair.

Turkish executives were interested in Chinese brands such as Chery, Landwind, Great Wall, Geely, Roewe and DongFeng.

Chinese cars will expectedly meet European standards by 2007 and be marketed in Turkey by early 2008.

The first Turkish company entitled to distribute Chinese cars in Turkey is Mermerler Group. The company, which currently holds the distribution of Mazda, reached an agreement with Chery. Certain models were even exhibited during this year’s Istanbul Auto Show.

The Anadolu Group, which is currently working to build a bus facility in Russia, is also closely interested in Chinese automobiles. Tuncay Ozilhan, who handled the sale of Abank to the Greek Alpha, is seeking now to branch out into the automotive industry.

Kia General Manager Alp Evcimen, who attended the Beijing Auto Show last week, held negotiations with three Chinese brands. The group seeks to import both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles from China.

Ozilhan, who ended his partnership with Honda by selling his shares at a price of $48.5 million during the economic depression, wants to add Chinese vehicles to the existing distribution line comprised of Kia and Lada
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