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Hey, taxi! Marty hails Turkish cab maker — and the jobs it will bring

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By Gary Buiso

Now that’s how you hail a cab.

Borough officials spent Sunday morning cheering Turkish automaker Karsan, a politically connected company promising hundreds of Brooklyn jobs if its design is chosen as the city’s next yellow cab.

“I hope that city officials will seriously consider taking a ride with Karsan — we owe it to everyone in the city that seeks gainful employment,” said Borough President Markowitz who organized the automotive love fest at Borough Hall.

Karsan, along with American icon Ford and Japanese automaker Nissan North America are the three companies going bumper-to-bumper in the city’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition, which seeks to replace the city’s current taxi fleet with a safer and more environmentally friendly model.

But only Karsan’s bid, as this newspaper first reported in February, brings the possibility of jobs at an auto plant in Sunset Park — the city’s first since the Studebaker factory in Harlem was sold off in the 1930s for use as a Borden dairy plant.

The assembly work would be done in partnership with the Axis Group, which already operates a non-manufacturing facility for imported cars at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal at 39th Street and the waterfront.

“We’ll be bringing the engines from [Chrysler] Michigan, the chassis from Turkey and the rest of the parts would be heavily American,” said Jay Kriegel, a Karsan advisor.

Up to 300 new jobs will be created initially, with more expected based on additional orders, he added.

Karsan USA’s president is William Wachtel, one of the founding partners of the powerful law and lobbying firm Wachtel & Masyr, whose client list includes Forest City Ratner and IKEA.

Kriegel is also a longtime city insider, currently a senior adviser to the Related Companies, which is developing land in East New York that could be home to another borough first: Walmart.

But he said politics have not fueled the effusive support Karsan is receiving from local pols.

“That has nothing to do with anything,” Kriegel said. “This is about a decision on the merits.”

The Taxi and Limousine Commission, which is evaluating the proposals, has been tight-lipped except to say that the first new cabs could hit the road in 2013, though it will take years to replace the entire fleet of 13,237.

A road-ready model of the Karsan V1 stood idle as its praises were sung, its bulky lines soaking up the morning sun. A cut-out section of the cab displayed its spacious interior, and easily accommodated Markowitz and other pols who piled in to pose for photographers.

The cab has been a hit with its would-be passengers, selected first by 65-1/2 percent of those who took an online passenger survey.

It’s also won the the backing of the disabled community, as the cabs are the only one of the trio that are completely wheelchair accessible off the assembly line.

“It’s amazing — and I’ll be able to go wherever I want,” said Elizabeth Ramos, an East New York resident who suffers from scoliosis and has been confined to a wheelchair for the last seven years. “It’s a dream come true.”

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Reader Feedback

teegee from sunset park says:
forgive me for being dubious, but i doubt that cars will be truly manufactured here...there will be some finishing touches - as they already do - preping cars for delivery to showrooms. but to think they would invest in a "plant" and that it could be ready to put new cabs on the streets by 2013 is hard to swallow.

and marty, after passing bagels & coffee around the room, ask some tough questions - like how much of the materials will come by ship directly to SBMT? or will they be off-loaded in NJ and then loaded on trucks to rumble thru sunset park?
May 2, 2011, 6:02 am
William Lee from Williamsburg says:
The Times is reporting today that Karsan has been eliminated because they are a new and untested company. (Aren't we supposed to encourage new and innovative start-up ventures?) The Brooklyn jobs angle apparently did not even merit consideration.

This is a cruel blow for Brooklyn. I suspect there was some backstage lobbying behind this regrettable decision (including from "pro-Israel" forces who were angry that a firm with Turkish origins might be chosen). Beep Markowitz should push back strongly against this. Karsan was clearly the best of the lot, and it would have meant jobs jobs jobs!
May 2, 2011, 12:39 pm
Tony from Brooklyn says:
If the car is not 100% in the U.S., the maker bid should be rejected. Similarly, there should be a threshold of New York City based jobs created by the contract. With a trigger to immediately cancel the contract and collect a fine if that threshold is not maintained.
May 2, 2011, 8:40 pm
Mia from Bay Ridge says:
STFU, Marty. You have ZERO to do with anything of importance or consequence in this city. We can save money and create some middle class hobs by eliminating the ridiculous and worthless Borough President position.
May 2, 2011, 8:41 pm
Jeff from WA says:
Wow, the Karsan today has already been rejected before the final announcement??? The only one that is already handicap accessibly, more than two-thirds of Yorkers preferred it, would have been built by Americans locally (the other two will be built abroad), the Chrysler engine from Michigan, the only thing foreign would have been the chassis from Turkey, technology smart, low emission/gas, and looked very nice compared to other two. The official reason for rejection "whether the Turkish company, untested in the American market, could reliably execute the high-concept product it had designed..."

Yes sherlock, this is something you would have researched and stated more than two years ago when you chose your final three tenders, NOT two days before the final announcement. What an insult and disgrace wasting this company's crucial time and efforts. Maybe the Turks should have waited one more week before announcing the multi-billion utility helicopter deal and gave the contract to Italy instead.

When you request 13,000 of this vehicle that is only ONE model, I'm pretty sure the Turks and local Brooklyns' would have gotten it down pat after building a few units.
May 2, 2011, 11:57 pm
Turks from Jerseyshore says:
I love how the idiots are asking for something that is not even in the running, NYTC has already chosen three tenders Karsan (Built in Brooklyn), Ford Transit (Built in Europe), and Nissan (Built in China/Japan). No other manufacture bid on this project two years ago. The Ford Transit is bulky and will break down just like the victorias, since the Karsan is out of running for no apparent reason other than being from a muslim country...William Lee from Williamsburg said it best but don't forget the Armenians who protested last week in NY. So morale of story, enjoy your new Asian built cab for the future. Those stocks sure sound tempting right now.
May 3, 2011, 12:43 am
Ben from Boston says:
Why would you announce the rejection of a company just days before the winning bid? Wouldn't the winner of the bid automatically mean the other two did not win? Very fishy and weak.

It's like planning and inviting your friends for dinner at 8 and when they show up you don't open the door!

The Turks were so proud of this vehicle and putting their American friends to work, I would like to ask the real Americans (not Israeli, Armenian, or Greek descent) why do you keep stabbing your true allies the Turks in the back? Is it the pressure, history, or stupidity?
May 3, 2011, 1:03 am
In The Slope from Park Slope says:
Just more proof how impotent King Mary is to get anything meaningful accomplished for Brooklyn other than being a cheerleader for pole dancing!!
May 3, 2011, 6:39 am

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