Coventry-based electric vanmaker Modec is in the early stages of a project which could see a major Turkish producer use its chassis on zero-emission minibuses made for the local market.
Turkey’s Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Çaglayan recently visited the UK where he met with Modec as well as chief executives from major British companies including Tesco and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Mr Çaglayan said he had discussed the prospect of Turkish coach, bus and commercial vehicle manufacturer Temsa building a link with Modec to produce vehicles in Turkey as part of the country’s plan to position itself as a centre for electric automotive manufacturing.
Modec chief executive Bill Gillespie confirmed there had been talks between the two organisations, but said the project was still at an early stage.
“We are delighted that they have come to Modec to seek our chassis as their solution for a zero-emission minibus for the Turkish market,” he said.
“We are happy to be talking to them about the prospect of developing a bus.”
Temsa has a production capacity of around 4,000 units annually and in 2008 opened a new production site in Cairo in a bid to expand in the growing North Africa, Middle East and Gulf markets.
Modec, which prides itself on the fact that it is the world’s first manufacturer of purpose-built zero emission vans, has long attracted interest from overseas clients and governments and reports more success in selling its vans abroad than on home soil.
Of the 350 vehicles it has made to date, only about 50 have been for the UK, with France being its largest market.
Modec attracted worldwide attention last year when President Obama gave £23 million in backing to a joint venture set up between the firm and US trucking giant Navistar International Corporation.
The deal sees Modec-designed vans made on US production lines to supply the huge North, Central and South American markets.
The venture used the £23 million from the US government awarded as part of the £1.4 billion grants package announced by President Obama to accelerate the manufacture of electric vehicles and batteries in the country. The company reached an agreement with Navistar to initially supply 400 completed vehicles to the United States, after which it will make the transition to providing just components when the US manufacturer takes over the production by 2011.
Despite production eventually migrating to the US, the deal brought a lasting boost to the UK firms who supply Modec with its proprietary components and who will continue to supply the US production line.
Modec’s suppliers include Midland engineering companies such as ABT and Zytec, based in Lichfield, which supplies it with drivetrains.