Turkey to bridge the Dardanelles in new mega project

Updated 21 November 2014

Turkey to bridge the Dardanelles in new mega project

ISTANBUL: Turkey is planning to build a bridge across the famed Dardanelles strait to help ease traffic congestion in Istanbul, a minister said, revealing the latest in a string of mega projects under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The straits, which separate Europe and Asia, were last bridged by Xerxes the Great, the Persian “king of kings” in 480 BC on his way to defeat the Greeks at Thermopylae.
“We are planning to construct a new bridge across the Dardanelles strait,” Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan said in an interview with Turkish television.
The Dardanelles lead into the Sea of Marmara which then goes into the Bosphorus in Istanbul itself. The waterway is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and is 1.2 km wide at its narrowest point.
So far the Dardanelles strait can only be crossed by ferry.
“We will turn the entire Marmara region into a ring road, so this ring system will ease the Istanbul traffic to a great extent,” Elvan added.
The Dardanelles, which played a key role in the great sea battles of ancient history, were also the site of one of the most famous battles of World War I when Ottoman troops resisted an invading Allied force.
It was also where the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal, the man who would later become known as Ataturk, made his name as a heroic military leader.
Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government is under fire for its ambitious construction projects for the mega city of 16 million, which critics have condemned as wildly excessive and damaging to the environment.
The projects include a massive new Istanbul airport, a third road bridge across the Bosphorus, and a canal parallel to the waterway to ease the permanent bottleneck of tankers and freighters waiting to pass through it.
Erdogan has said the projects are needed to create a fast-developing and prosperous “new Turkey” that will be one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023.
The building industry has boomed in recent years but while Erdogan was prime minister, his government was shaken by a now-stalled corruption probe into allegations of high-level bribery linked to some construction projects.
Elvan vowed that the government would move ahead with mega projects, saying the government was planning a 17 billion Turkish lira ($7.6 billion/6 billion euros) investment in Istanbul.
Among the new projects is a direct metro line from Kadikoy to the Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of Istanbul, he added.
Last year amid great fanfare the government opened the first ever undersea metro link beneath the Bosphorus connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
This year it opened the first high-speed train link between Istanbul and Ankara.

Tesla rival Lucid Motors wants to build factory in Saudi Arabia

Updated 43 min 52 sec ago

Tesla rival Lucid Motors wants to build factory in Saudi Arabia

  • Lucid Motors eyes production plant in Kingdom after raising more than $1bn from the Public Investment Fund
  • California-based electric-car maker hopes to sell first vehicles for more than $100,000 

LONDON: A US-based electric-vehicle company that raised more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia wants to build a factory in the Kingdom, and says its mission to build “the best car in the world” is well underway. 

The California-based Lucid Motors is developing its first model, the Air, which it hopes to sell for more than $100,000 when it enters production in less than two years’ time. 

Financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), announced last year, will allow Lucid to proceed with the development of the all-electric sedan, as well as fund the $240 million cost of building the first phase of its factory in the US.

Peter Rawlinson, chief technology officer at Lucid Motors — and a former engineer at rival Tesla — said the company wants to eventually build a production plant in Saudi Arabia, and sees a “long-term” partnership with the Kingdom.

“I can see a really bright future, with a tangible manufacturing facility or facilities,” Rawlinson told Arab News.

“We’d love to do that … We’re currently in a period where we are investigating all these options. 

“There is a vision that there will be some sort of production facility in the future.”

Rawlinson added that it is “early days” for such a plan, but said he sees many opportunities for electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia — not least, because of the abundant sunshine and potential for solar power.

“We are undertaking the appropriate studies, but I’m really excited about the potential of this. This partnership is huge for us; we can benefit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a significant, meaningful and long-term manner,” he said. 

“One of the great assets of the Kingdom is its endless reserves of sunshine, and how that can be harvested with solar energy. We’re a battery-storage technology company; that’s a way we could contribute. We’re exploring a number of avenues along those lines.”

Lucid is positioning itself in the luxury market, and Rawlinson said its Air model is looking to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Lucid Air is the company’s first car, but Rawlinson said an initial public offering (IPO) could be on the cards to develop future models.

The engineer brushed off the idea of a competitive threat from Elon Musk’s Tesla, where he once worked as chief engineer for the Model S.

“We don’t see Tesla as a key, direct competitor. We see the German gasoline cars — the petrol engine cars … as our core competitive set,” he said. 

“I’ve spoken to many people … who would gladly buy an electric car but say they’re not going to give up their Mercedes-Benz to buy a Tesla because of the interior. You’ve only got to step inside a Tesla to realize it’s not true luxury.”