VW in final talks about new plant in Turkey: board member

FILE PHOTO: A new logo of German carmaker Volkswagen at the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German carmaker Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE is nearing a decision on building a new plant in Turkey, a board member told reporters in Berlin on Thursday.

“We are in final talks with Turkey,” said Andreas Tostmann, board member in charge of production, adding he expected the talks to be completed in two weeks, “perhaps earlier.”

Giving more details on the plans, sources close to the company said the multi-brand factory would cost more than 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion).

The sources said the plant would likely produce 300,000 cars a year, the VW Passat and near identical Skoda Superb models, for export to eastern Europe.

It would employ near 4,000 in Manisa near Izmir in western Anatolia and construction could start at the end of 2020 with production starting in 2022, they said.

Volkswagen had been looking into a possible new plant in eastern Europe, with Bulgaria known to have been on the list.

A deal in Turkey could be politically controversial given European Union concerns regarding what it sees as constraints on freedom of expression and demonstration rights under President Tayyip Erdogan. VW’s argument is that Turkey is a candidate for EU membership.

Reporting by Jan Schwartz and Klaus Lauer, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Jason Neely