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Flat tire! Turkish taxi maker out, despite promise of jobs

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By Gary Buiso

The Turkish taxi was a turkey, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Tuesday — but now its Brooklyn supporters are crying foul.

The next fleet of taxis will be manufactured by Nissan after the city ruled out both Ford and Karsan, a Turkish outfit that pledged to open an assembly plant in Sunset Park.

The controversial decision awards the Japanese company a $1-billion contract, despite the promise of hundreds of Brooklyn jobs and the Big Apple’s first auto plant in nearly a century.

The news made Karsan boosters blow a gasket, charging a conflict of interest in the so-called “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition.

“The administration is giving away a $1-billion contract … without seeking any commitments for investment in our local and national economies,” said Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, who, along with Borough President Markowitz, is demanding an investigation into why the Taxi and Limousine Commission asked a consulting firm that was working with Ford and Nissan to give a supposely unbiased assessment of all three finalists.

“This failure … cast serious doubts on the legitimacy of the final decision,” DeBlasio said.

The consultant, Ricardo Inc., had issued a damning report that found that Karsan posed the “highest risk” choice of the three candidates, casting doubts on whether it could successfully fulfill the obligations of a 10-year contract, according to the New York Times.

Karsan is “a new manufacturer, with a new manufacturing paradigm, not familiar with the U.S. regulatory framework, with no current sales, service or support infrastruc­ture,” the report stated — predictably, according to DeBlasio and Markowitz.

Bloomberg rejected the critics.

“There are no conflicts as far as I can tell,” Bloomberg said, adding that the decision came down to the merits, as Karsan would not have not enough time to get a factory up and running to get new cabs on the road by 2013.

“It shows the difficulty of an overseas company to understand how New York works and how you do things in New York,” the mayor said. “Karsan’s plan was just not practical.”

That didn’t sit well with Markowitz, who said the city “could have done better,” and wondered why the company made it all the way to the finals if it was so impractical.

The Nissan cabs cost about $29,000 each — the cheapest of the three, and will be made in Mexico, with some assembly in North America — though not in Brooklyn.

Only Karsan’s bid, as this news outlet first reported in February, brings the possibility of jobs to 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.

On Sunday, Markowitz organized an automotive lovefest for Karsan, hailing the jobs the company would park in Brooklyn.

The assembly work would have been 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.

Up to 300 new jobs would have been created to start, with more expected based on additional orders, a Karsan spokesman had said.

A road-ready model of the Karsan V1 stood idle as its praises were sung at the rally, 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 by 65-1/2 percent of those who took an online passenger survey.

It’s also won the backing of the disabled community, as the cab is the only one of the trio that was 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.”

Taxi drivers have the option of paying more to equip their Nissan NV200 to make them handicap accessible, the mayor said.

Updated 4:46 pm, May 3, 2011: Updates all around.
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Reasonable discourse

davidduda says:
My dad told me about "Auto Insurance Clearance" or something which helped him to find a lower priced Auto insurance (with ALMOST similar coverage) he is recommending this to me. What do you think of them? BTW you can find more about them online.
May 3, 2011, 1:15 am
Jeff says:
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.

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, 2:17 am
TricksR4kids from Sesame St. says:
The Karsan V1 was rejected because it was going to be built by Americans, Karsan's biggest mistake was to make that announcement two weeks ago. It was doing really good and was the front runner and left the other two competitors in the dust all this time. Karsan not having any experience is a valid point that you make two years ago during the preliminary phase before you accept the final three tenders, not days away from the final announcement!
May 3, 2011, 2:57 am
SOMEONE from TURKEY says:
Karsan is not inexperience. Yes they don't have any sales in the USA, but they manufacture a lot of vehicles. They build buses, tractors, minivans, trucks, army vehicles. They produces vehicles for peugeot, renault, citroen, hyundai any many others. They just don't have their own brand. Honestly I think I like to see their taxi in the streets of Turkey.
May 3, 2011, 3:17 am
Historian from Wallstreet says:
They hate the Turks because they are Muslims.
May 3, 2011, 5:04 am
realdeal from Jersey says:
Of course Karsan has experience, the "real" decision to reject them had nothing to do with that. If Ford Transit (Mexico) or Nissan Cab (Japan) only offered a steering wheel for this Taxi of Tomorrow and promised the rest of the car later, Karsan would still get rejected. You know why...amazing 85% of surveyed residents requested the Karsan version.
May 3, 2011, 5:44 am
jj from brooklyn says:
Selection of a vendor for this type of contract has little to do with quality or superiority of product and more to do with personal relationships [in some cases greased wheels]. That's why the current crop of NY taxis are so lousy.

It's hard to believe, in any case, that the cars would have been built in Brooklyn.

Now if Karsan offered to throw in a football stadium…
May 3, 2011, 7:18 am
Moshe from Borough Park says:
No rich upper west side Jewish couple would feel comfortable in a Turkish made cab even if it was made in Brooklyn and brought revenue to NY in more ways then just the taxi system. The message is very clear here, the Turks lost because Bloomberg is supporter of Israel - the last minute rejection reeked of double standard and the continuing disrespectfulness Israel shows Turkey a la recent current events. This is just one example. I read the company was not even notified about the reason for the rejection (the reason is they are new and untrusted, c'mon, I got a bridge to sell you if you believe that.)
May 3, 2011, 9:03 am
an engineer from seattle says:
This is all politics.the Turkish cab is the only one able to accommodate the disabled people.And the other specifications of the cab superior.jews dont want to take a turkish cab.I hope karsan wont give up marketing.
May 3, 2011, 9:43 am
jj from brooklyn says:
This is not a Jewish issue. Despite recent problems, Turkish-Israel relations have been VERY cordial, and there is a good connection between Turkish reps in the city and New York's Jewish community leadership.
May 3, 2011, 10:16 am
steve from downtown says:
Israel has had good relations with Turkey for many years. It's only lately that Turkey's PM chose to distance the country's alignment with the West, and move to a more Extremist-Muslim posture. This will hopefully change. But this taxi is not a political issue, and I believe people at large will be glad to ride in a Turkish built car, be they American , Israeli, Pakistani or EVEN CANADIAN !! Ey ??
May 3, 2011, 10:28 am
JJJ says:
Sounds like yet another case of going with the name.

You know the old saying, "nobody got fired for buying an IBM"?

Thats very true for any kind of brand. Politicians love picking the safe brand, even though there may be something much better
May 3, 2011, 12:36 pm
sal from coney island says:
Just goes to show that BP Marty Markowitz isn't quite the salesman he used to be.
He's lost his MOJO.
May 3, 2011, 4:23 pm
David from Gowanus says:
Yassky and Bloomberg are idiots - Nissan's cab wont be ready by 2013 either cause the selection will be bogged down in lawsuits related to the American for Disabilities Act. The only 2 choices were the Karsan (which was handicapped accessible) and the Ford (which despite being also made in Turkey would have had domestic industry support and the support of cab operators) - the Nissan has Zero support and will now be bogged down in litigation for years.

3rd term is turning into the disaster everyone predicted - sad
May 3, 2011, 5:23 pm
k from gp says:
They definitely picked the worst car out of the three.
May 4, 2011, 11:01 am
Markin from Martowitz says:
Oh, allah vagina? For fat jew?
May 8, 2011, 4:55 am

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