Saab 9-3-based development mules for Turkish national car projectEnlarge Photo
Annual new-car sales in Turkey come in around one million units, but the country doesn't have a car brand to call its own. That will change very soon.
The country's government, under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is backing plans for a national car brand.
Right now, the project is simply called "Automobile of Turkey" with five major local automotive and technology companies involved. With substantial financial backing, the brand should have its first prototype ready by 2019 and the report states an on-sale date may come as early as 2021.
Like the automotive industry at large, the brand will pursue an electric car and hopes to build a well-trusted name with Turkish consumers. In fact, the report says the national auto brand is a top priority for officials right now. Turkey is a major distribution hub for automotive suppliers to the Middle East and Europe and the country wants to leverage its geography with its own product.
What isn't clear is if this project stems from news in October of 2015 about the country leveraging National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) for components for a national car project. It certainly seems likely. NEVS owns the assets of bankrupt Saab. At the time, Turkey's science minister proclaimed its electrified car would be better and safer than a Tesla.