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In the 1960s Kemal Coşkunöz, who manufactured the iron sheet bodywork of ten Fiat buses with the encouragement of İnan Kıraç and the help of a hammer, continued by building two truck driver’s cabins, again using a hammer. Before long, intensive bodywork production had been commenced in Bursa. These efforts, which gained momentum in small workshops, continued until 1966 when the 269-partnered “Bursa Otomontaj ve Karoseri A.Ş.” was established under the leadership of the then Minister of Industry Mehmet Turgut and with the efforts of Kemal Coşkunöz and Talat Diniz. For nearly a decade, thousands of bodyworks were built on a variety of chassis. In 1976, the production of Mercedes “N 1300” minibuses commenced.


In 1979, koç groupincreased its shares in the company, which was renamed “Karsan Otomotiv Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş.” Company structure was strengthened and production of minibus, ambulance, pickup etc. vehicles started under Peugeot licensing. Production of “Peugeot J9” minibuses commenced in 1981, strengthening the company’s position in the light commercial vehicle market. In 1997, “Peugeot Partner” was launched in the market as the first locally manufactured minivan in Turkey. Production was started at a small plant in the Bursa Organized Industrial Zone on the road to Mudanya. The structure, however, started to fall behind the requirements of developing technology and increased capacity with time, greatly hindering operations. When Kıraça Group took over the company as the majority shareholder, the search for a new factory site began.


Since very early ages, many Anatolian cities have enjoyed a tradition of horse-drawn carriage production, with Bursa taking the lead among such centers also including Eskişehir, Konya and Akşehir. The phrase “Lay the load on iron, adorn the wood” is a widespread design principle among carriage makers in Bursa. Over time, the production in the city has been standardized and even carried out in a semi-industrial fashion. Iron parts, connections, carriages, wooden sections, and wheel parts were all manufactured and adorned in separate workshops. This improved the production standards and speed, bringing in a price advantage.This traditional structure, the fact that almost all employees were natives of Bursa, and the presence of a developed subsidiary industry around Bursa were all instrumental in determining the location of the factory. Then, the area adjacent to the Hasanoğlan Organized Industrial Zone around the Akçalar region 30 kilometers to the west of the city was developed as “Akçalar Organized Industrial Zone.” A 200,000 square meter block [550x380 meters] was purchased in the nearly 1 million square meter area.


Five kilometers air distance away from Lake Ulubatlı, this non-agricultural project had a 30-meter elevation difference between its northwestern corner [110,54 meters] and southeastern corner [140,45 meters], which would be turned into a test track. The first order of business was to contact Peugeot authorities to commence information transfer. With its project initiated in May 1998, the factory had to commence its operations by July 1999. Peugeot facilities as well as those of the Fiat-Peugeot joint venture in France, Italy and Portugal were examined. Technological plans were drafted as the projects were drawn, environmental impact assessment meetings continued and legal authorizations were obtained.


Automotive plants incorporate three major sections including a body shop, paint shop and assembly shop. In plants with an annual production capacity of over 100.000 units, these sections need to be located in separate buildings that are connected to each other by corridors or tunnels and production in each of these three conveyed to the next under sterile conditions. This is required to avoid one-piece masses and for security reasons. Accordingly, it was decided that all three units should be gathered under a single roof at Karsan Otomotiv Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., which was planned to have an annual production capacity of 75.000 vehicles.


In accordance with the production diagram, body and paint shops come in a standard number and the assembly line a standard length. At Karsan, a minimum length of 135 meters was required for production and 180 meters paint shop as well as a width of 75 meters. This also determined the size of main building: three body and assembly lines; 135+75 meters in length and 180 in width. Prefabricated ferroconcrete columns fitted in 1,5 meters-deep sockets were preferred as vertical structural systems. Column axes were designed as 15x30 meters for the operation schema and due to the developing technology. The upper structural system bearing the production elements were created by 2 meters-high steel profiles. On the roof, heat insulated aluminum panels were covered by a plastic based cover. A ferroconcrete protective wall was constructed and covered by aluminum panels up to 1,5 meters-high from the ground level. The work started in September 1998 and the Paint Shop was delivered in March 1999 for technological equipping. The Body Shop and the Assembly Shop were completed in June 1999 and production started.


Initially designed as a small unit, the Pressing Shop was expanded after the work commenced: With a column axis of 7,5x15 meters and dimensions of 45x157,5 meters, the interior height of this structure is 11 meters. Cranes were fitted on the gussets placed on the prefabricated ferroconcrete columns to carry the metal sheet production and swages. Raw steel sheet rolls enter from the façade leave as body parts. Below the area where the presses are installed, is an 8 meters-deep, 750 square meter basement. Body parts that leave the Pressing Shop are welded at the Body Shop and the resulting chassis are brought to the Paint Shop on conveyor belts.


The chassis go through fully automated, dipping-based phosphate and cataphoresis lines and fired in furnaces before coated with PVC to protect the lower parts of the vehicles. Mastic is applied to the plate joints and sound absorbing asphalt plates are installed in the lower inner parts before being fired in the furnace again. Another phase is the priming of the body surface and its firing in order to give it a smooth surface in preparation for the last layer of paint. Vehicles are tested and painted in approved colors, fired and sent to the quality control station. Checked by quality control personnel at the end of the lines, vehicles are then taken to the painted inventory site and the desired types and amount of vehicles are automatically introduced to the Assembly Shop. Coated at the Assembly Shop, which operates with three lines, vehicles leave the main building to be tested on the test track.


The 2 kilometers-long test track, which features various road conditions such as large rocks, holes, pavements, aggregate, sharp turns and rough turns, bumps, short and long surges, on and off pavements, sound wall and ramps, is toured three times by the vehicles before admitted to the Final Control section to check and adjust their main systems including the engine, transmission, suspensions, steering wheel, brakes and clutch as well as auxiliary systems and functions such as air-conditioning, lighting, handbrake and water test.


After the completion of the factory, construction of the Social Facility and Administrative Building commenced. The two-storey Social Facility of the factory where 2.500 employees work in three shifts includes locker rooms, wet surfaces, a kitchen and a mess hall. The ground floor is centered on the main kitchen while the service kitchen is placed in the center of the first floor. Locker rooms and wet surfaces connected to each other through wide corridors were placed on the ground floor of the four-block scheme placed around the central kitchen while the first floor included two mess hall units, a special dining hall, a library and a lounge.


The three-storey Administrative Building, both wings of which are reserved for offices, is accessible through the main hallway in the center. The stairway and connection corridor, which provide access to the upper floors from the middle section, which is separated from the middle section by dilation, was constructed with a steel suspension system. With its entirely transparent front façade, this section was arranged with 2x3,5 meters-curvilinear glasses borne by 7,7 meters-high laminated glass posts. Senior civil engineer Serdar Ünlü, who made invaluable contributions in the creation of the project as the implementation specialist, passed away at a very young age in the last days of the project as a result of a heart attack; we remember him with love and respect.

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