ISTANBUL, June 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ford Otosan, the successful automotive joint venture that draws its roots back to industrial pioneers Henry Ford and Vehbi Koc, is marking its 50th anniversary today with a celebration in Istanbul.
Over the past five decades, Ford Otosan has been an integral and profitable part of Ford Motor Company's (NYSE: F) international operations and has been at the forefront of the auto industry in Turkey, most recently building successful vehicles such as the Ford Transit, Ford Transit Connect and Cargo commercial vehicles.
More than 500 guests are expected to join the celebration, including Rahmi M. K Koc, honorary president and chairman of Ford Otosan, Bill Ford, Ford executive chairman, John Fleming, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe and Lewis Booth, Ford chief financial officer. The celebration also will include Turkish federal, state and local government officials and cultural leaders.
"In many ways coming to Turkey is like a homecoming for me, because my family and my company have such strong and lasting bonds here. The Koc family and the Ford family have a special relationship that goes back more than 80 years," Bill Ford said. "For Ford Motor Company, Ford Otosan represents not only the proud heritage of our past, but the bright promise of our future. It will be exciting to watch that future unfold."
Ford Otosan is a fully integrated operation, including sales and marketing, engineering, manufacturing and parts distribution. Ford Motor Company and the Koc Group each hold a 41 percent stake in the joint venture with the remaining 18 percent held publicly on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. It employs a total of about 7,600 employees at its manufacturing operations in Kocaeli and Inonu, its parts distribution center in Kartal and its engineering center in Gebze.
"The foundation of what became Ford Otosan grew out of the drive and vision of Henry Ford, and Vehbi Koc," said Rahmi M. K Koc. "Their passion and commitment continues to drive the Ford Otosan business forward today. We're proud that Turkish automotive industry started with Ford Otosan."
Otosan was founded in 1959, and in 1977, the company signed a license agreement with then-Ford Chairman Henry Ford II and the company's name was changed to Ford Otosan. In 1997, Ford increased its share of ownership to 30 percent, growing to 41 percent in 1997.
Over the past 50 years, Ford Otosan has led the transformation of the Turkish automotive industry. It was the first company to build a Turkish-engineered car in the country – the Anadol. It also was the first – and is still the only – Turkish auto company to export a vehicle to North America, the Ford Transit Connect. Soon after the Transit Connect was launched in North America last year it won the 2010 North American Truck of the Year award.
Ford Otosan has been the top-selling auto company in the Turkish domestic market for the past eight years. Ford Otosan products are exported from Turkey to more than 60 countries around the world, including markets in Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and North America. Ford Otosan produced 173,000 vehicles in 2009 with worldwide revenues of $3.7 billion.
Since the Kocaeli plant opened in 2001, Ford Otosan has become a key element in Ford's commercial vehicle production strategy. The combined Kocaeli Plant and Inonu site produce a full range of light, medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles, including the Transit Connect, Transit and Cargo vehicles. In addition, the Puma Transit engine and Ecotorq Cargo engine, are produced at Inonu.
"Ford Otosan has an important role to play in Ford's ongoing global commercial vehicle strategy, and is an integral part of our ONE Ford approach," Lewis Booth said. "Ford Otosan has a very bright future and we expect to fully leverage its production capacity in the years ahead."
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010, and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.
SOURCE Ford Motor Company