ISTANBUL (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co.'s Turkish unit, one of the finalists in a competition to supply New York taxis, aims to increase sales to the United States by 50 percent in 2011, CEO Nuri Otay said.
Ford Otomotiv Sanayi AS is already selling its Transit Connect van for use as taxis and service vehicles in U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Washington, Boston and Chicago, Otay said.
Demand for the model, built at a plant in Kocaeli, Turkey, will increase in 2011, boosting U.S. sales, he added.
“Next year, wholesale and retail taxi-van sales to the U.S. market will increase as we see demand from taxi companies as well as from post offices for the Transit Connect,” raising sales of the model to 30,000, Otay said in a Dec. 14 interview. “There are several taxi companies in each U.S. city, and they constantly review their procurement plans.”
Ford, Japan's Nissan Motor Co. and Karsan Otomotiv of Turkey were named as finalists in November in a competition to design a replacement for New York's 13,237-taxi fleet.
The Nissan and Karsan models, like Ford's, are van-like designs with greater fuel efficiency and more leg room and trunk space than current city taxis.
New York officials intend to save taxi owners money with one manufacturer for the entire fleet, with durable models designed to handle potholed streets and rough weather over the course of a typical 70,000-mile (113,000-km) year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Nov. 15.
Transit EV wins U.S. customers
Electric Transit Connect models from Ford's Turkish venture are being used as service vehicles by North American customers including AT&T Inc., Southern California Edison Co. and the New York Power Authority, spokesman Umut Canpolat said.
The vehicles are shipped without engines and then fitted with electric motors and batteries by Canada's Azure Dynamics, he said. The Transit Connect is the only model Ford Otosan sells in North America.
Sales to the U.S. will increase regardless of the outcome of New York's taxi competition, Otay said. The contract is expected to be awarded in the first quarter of 2011, he added.
Ford Otosan's revenue and deliveries will both probably increase 5 percent in 2011, while Turkey's vehicle market will remain unchanged at about 740,000 units, Otay said.
“Although sales to most European countries may fall, we expect more deliveries to emerging markets and this, along with the U.S., will give us an increase over this year,” Otay said.
Ford Otosan will probably build 240,000 vehicles this year and sell 300,000, including imports of Ford models produced elsewhere and sold in Turkey, Otay added.