National car unveiled by minister sparks Cadillac debate
Emre Özpeynirci - ISTANBUL
AA PhotoA long-awaited domestic vehicle that has been promoted as a “national car” by government officials during election campaign stops, was unveiled Oct. 13, but its resemblance to Cadillac has sparked a debate.
Turkish Science and Technology Minister Fikri Işık announced Oct. 13 that three prototypes of the first Turkish-made cars had been developed, sharing the first camouflaged photos of the prototypes for the first time with the public.
“We have been progressing upon a road map over the indigenous car production step by step. We have already produced three prototypes. These have been developed at the research and development center of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [TÜBİTAK]. One of them is gasoline-driven, one is an electric car with an extended range, and the last one is an electric car. We hope we’ll produce 30-40 vehicles by 2016 to test on open field conditions,” he said.
The prototype of the new car
The car in the photos and a video is very much similar to the “Cadillac BLS,” a heavily restyled version of the Saab 9-3.
The model was produced in Sweden from 2007 to 2009, before the production ceased due to poor sales, and Saab went bankrupt soon after the project ended.
The resemblance immediately created a firestorm on social media. The car was dubbed the “national Cadillac” by many Twitter users, with one arguing that “we could even see the Cadillac logo if it had not been camouflaged.”
The interior of the car
In addition to the chassis, the car’s interior and front panel design are almost identical with the not-so-popular Cadillac model. From what has been shown, it appears that the domestic car has been produced with the molds of a bankrupt company and a model that is now history.
Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Işık said production would begin in 2019. About 40 cars will be produced and will be tested under all conditions, he said.
He said Turkey can start mass production of the locally made car by the end of 2019 unless more political uncertainties arise.
The Turkish car will hopefully be on the market by 2020, Işık said.
“We have calculated the project’s costs. It is, however, not rational to reveal these calculations as long as a person agrees to coproduce this car with us,” he said, adding that they would invite any candidates to undertake the project as a manufacturer.
Işık said the locally produced electrical car would be able to go 100 kilometers a day with a charging cost of 50-60 Turkish Liras.
“The share of local production will be around 90 percent,” he said.
He noted Turkey had missed the train for the classic internal combustion motor technology, but electric cars present a new window of opportunity as a number of leading global companies have been working in the field for the last couple of years.
The next five years will be absolutely crucial in electric car development across the world, Işık said, adding that the world may see new-generation electric cars by Apple or Google in the next decade.
The interior of Cadillac BLS