Turkish Government Pushes for a Homegrown Electric Car

The first prototype will be unveiled in 2019, and production will start in 2021.

Hyundai

Turkey is home to many car factories, but it does not have any indigenous automotive brands. Rather than continue manufacturing cars solely for foreign brands, Turkey's government believes the time has come to develop a homegrown car.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing for the development of an all-electric car under a project with the grandiose name "Automobile of Turkey." The goal is to have a prototype ready by 2019, with full-scale production in 2021, according to The Times.

No details on the Turkish electric car are available, but the Turkish government did strike a deal in 2015 with National Electric Vehicle Sweden to use the old Saab 9-3 platform as the basis for a locally-manufactured car. NEVS owns the rights to the 9-3 and other Saab designs and has been trying to get the car back into production with an electric powertrain for several years, primarily for sales in China.

The 9-3 is in turn based on the General Motors Epsilon architecture, which dates back to 2003. A Swedish car based on an American platform licensed by Turkey would certainly win the prize for most unusual international mashup, but such an old design probably wouldn't be the best foundation for a new electric car. It would also mean the first Turkish-branded car wouldn't be truly homegrown.

Designing and building a new car is never easy, but government support could give the Turkish effort a serious boost. The project will also be able to draw on local manufacturing expertise. But it's unclear how a new, Turkish-branded car will be received, even in its home country. Consumers may be more inclined to go with more familiar brands, so the "Automobile of Turkey" will have to offer something special to get their attention.