The Turkish government has announced that it has purchased the right to build the second-generation Saab 9-3 from National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). The blueprints have been turned over to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK), and the 13-year old sedan will soon be transformed into what government officials refer to as a “Turkish national car.”
Work on the yet-unnamed model has been under way for a few months. Surprisingly, early prototypes (pictured right) that were recently shown to government officials look a lot like the Cadillac BLS, a 9-3-based sedan that was briefly sold in Europe in an unsuccessful bid to help the American firm grab a slice of the local new car market. The design is still being finalized, so the regular-production model might end up looking less like a Cadillac.
Power will initially be provided by four-cylinder gasoline- and diesel-burning engines, but TÜBITAK ultimately hopes to develop and sell an all-electric version of the sedan. Regardless of what lurks under the hood, at least 85 percent of the parts that make up the revamped car will be built locally.
Both parties are set to benefit from the deal. The Turkish government got access to a time-tested — albeit outdated by today’s industry standards — platform in a relatively fast and cost-efficient manner. Saab hasn’t disclosed how much it sold the 9-3 for, but a source close to the government said the whole deal was “very affordable.” For NEVS, the partnership is a way to generate much-needed cash by putting its assets to work and to keep its investors (notably China’s Dongfeng Motor Corporation) satisfied.
When the car will launch is up in the air, though it’s not too far-fetched to speculate that it will make its debut next year. Although it’s being designed largely for the Turkish market, the sedan will also be exported abroad in a bid to boost the nation’s economic development.