Old Saab 9-3 To Become Turkish National Car; Electric Version May Be Included


Saab 9-3-based development mules for Turkish national car project

Saab 9-3-based development mules for Turkish national car project

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By all rights, Saab should have faded into history long ago--but like a zombie, the Swedish brand continues to shamble along.

Back in 2012, a consortium known as National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS) had bought the remains of the bankrupt Swedish carmaker, with the intention of building electric cars, primarily for the Chinese market.

But over the past three years, NEVS has spent most of its time dealing with financial issues, rather than building cars.

DON'T MISS: Prototype Electric Saab 9-3 EV Revealed By Struggling Owner NEVS (Aug 2014)

Now, the company has entered into an agreement with the Turkish government to license the old Saab 9-3 for production in that country.

Tübitak--Turkey's science and research body--has been tasked with developing a "national car" to help breathe some life into the local auto industry.

And rather than develop a new car from scratch, it decided to use the bones of the Saab 9-3.

2014 Saab 9-3 Aero

2014 Saab 9-3 Aero

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In addition to licensing the intellectual property around the design of the car, NEVS will also help Tübitak develop a business plan for supply and distribution chains.

The 9-3 being licensed by NEVS is the same model Saab was selling when it entered bankruptcy. NEVS acquired the rights to the design when it purchased Saab's assets.

ALSO SEE: Nevs Halts Electric Saab 9-3 Production Amid Short-Term Cash Problems (May 2014)

The car is based on the General Motors Epsilon platform that underpinned a previous generation of the Chevrolet Malibu, along with other GM models. It was first sold for the 2003 model year.

A press image shows Tübitak development mules wearing Cadillac BLS bodywork. Never sold in the U.S., the BLS was a small Cadillac based on the 9-3 intended solely for the European market.

The Turkish car will be sold under its own brand name, not Saab--a brand that NEVS does not have the right to use anyway.

Saab 9-3 EV electric prototype shown by NEVS, 2014

Saab 9-3 EV electric prototype shown by NEVS, 2014

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Further development of the car will reportedly take place in Turkey, and 85 percent of the parts are to be sourced locally.

It's also possible that versions of the Turkish 9-3 will use the electric powertrain developed by NEVS for its own cars.

RELATED: Saab 9-3 Production Restarts, Electric Version Still Planned (Dec 2013)

In a statement, NEVS president Mattias Bergmand said Turkey is interested in electric cars.

Saab was jettisoned by General Motors as the American company attempted to avoid bankruptcy, and then picked up by tiny Dutch boutique carmaker Spyker.

NEVS starts production of 2014 Saab 9-3

NEVS starts production of 2014 Saab 9-3

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Spyker couldn't keep Saab solvent, however, and after the larger carmaker declared bankruptcy in 2011, the Swedish firm's assets were purchased by NEVS.

The new owner restarted production of gasoline 9-3 models at Saab's factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, in December 2013, and built at least one electric prototype in 2014.

MORE: NEVS Completes Saab Deal, Electric Cars On The Way (Sep 2012)

However, production was quickly suspended due to cash-flow issues.

Earlier this year, NEVS was thrown a lifeline by Chinese state-owned carmaker Dongfeng, which agreed to collaborate with it on future vehicle development.

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