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Turkey Is Making a Weird Amount of Progress on the Saab 9-3 Becoming Its ‘National Car’

Apparently, Turkey’s electric is still in the works. In case you don’t remember, the former hub of the Ottoman Empire purchased the Saab 9-3’s license from National Electric Vehicle Sweden while it was still attempting to convert the model into a marketable EV in 2015. But, despite being the absolute perfect project to give up on, nobody has.

The plan was to make the electric 9-3 “the national car of Turkey.” That’s a little weird considering the model ended its life as an American-owned Swedish car, using General Motor’s Epsilon platform, that was later sold to Dutch automobile manufacturer Spyker and eventually NEVS back in Sweden. But, considering Turkey’s national sport is semi-erotic oil wrestling, this might be another case of the Republic embarking on something my Western mind can’t fully appreciate. 

Back on the automotive front, the country’s chairman of Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges, Rifat Hisarciklioglu, explained that the national EV project has received additional backing from local suppliers and should be progressing nicely.

“Century-old automobile giants are racing with each other in new-generation car technologies. So now is the right time for the Turkish automobile,” Hisarciklioglu told Hurriyet Daily News. “We will work very hard for three or four months to analyze the alternative technologies and funding options.”

The five suppliers — Anadolu Group, BMC, Kıraça Holding, Turkcell, and Zorlu Holding — have agreed to jointly manufacture Turkey’s first indigenous car… which, again, appears like it will also be the Saab 9-3. Of course, it won’t look like that model. The country has already taken steps to distance it from is Swedish origins by camouflaging the initial prototypes with another discontinued Epsilon — the Cadillac BLS.

According to Automotive News, the final vehicle should be a range-extended electric sedan. Last year, Turkey’s Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology indicated the debut model would be an electric car with a small gasoline engine as a range extender, possibly containing a 15-kWh battery and a pure-electric range of 60 miles. That was also around the time the country’s Science, Industry, and Technology Minister, Fikri Isik, said the car would “be better and safer than Tesla’s car.”

“While they need to establish charging stations, we will integrate the charging station into the car thanks to a developed engine which extends the car’s range,” Isik explained.

I wonder if they sell the BMW i3 REx or Chevrolet Volt in Turkey. Something tells me they might not.

While it’s a little difficult to take this endeavor seriously, the Republic of Turkey is a major producer for established brands looking to sell within Europe and there appears to be genuine effort placed behind the project. Car designer Ugur Sahin is supposedly involved, numerous suppliers have committed to making it a reality, and the country’s leadership certainly seems excited to see it come to fruition.

Also, on the off chance that you’re keen to get your hands on one someday, Industry Minister Faruk Özlü said the goal of the project is “not limited to the domestic markets.”

This post first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com

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