Turkey’s ‘national car’ project not connected to Saab: Company

Turkey’s ‘national car’ project not connected to Saab: Company

Emre Özpeynirci - ISTANBUL
Turkey’s ‘national car’ project not connected to Saab: Company

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Swedish aviation and defense giant Saab has said China’s National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which has signed a deal with Turkey to help produce the country’s first “national car,” does not represent the Saab brand, but only owns the company’s car production plant. 

“We do not have any deal with Turkey for the production of the country’s national car. We do not understand why Turkish [Science, Industry and Technology] Minister Fikri Işık has insistently voiced the ‘Saab’ brand when talking about the project,” said group spokesperson Sebastian Carlsson, in a special interview with American journalist Kenny Lama on the behalf of daily Hürriyet. 

“We bought the Saab 9-3’s intellectual property rights, but not its name,” Işık said in a televised interview on Oct. 15. 

“The brand [of the car to be developed] will be a Turkish brand, it will not be Saab. We’ll develop the technology in Turkey,” he added, as quoted by Anadolu Agency.

Carlsson said NEVS, with which Turkey has signed the deal, does not represent the Saab brand. 

Carlsson noted the Saab Group does not produce cars or have any activities in car development. 

“It does not make any sense for us to see the minister talking about any cooperation with Saab,” he said, adding the company was no longer in the automotive sector in car development.  

GM deal does not cover transfer of brand rights 

General Motors (GM) created the Saab 9-3 model and sold some of Saab’s facilities to China’s NEVS as the main shareholder four years ago. 

“The sale did not cover the transfer of Saab’s brand rights in our deal, which was inked four years ago. Our deal with NEVS only covers the sale of some of the Saab facilities in Sweden and the sale of the patterns and the intellectual property rights of the 9-3 model, which was created by us. The Saab brand is still owned by the Saab Aviation and Defense Company,” said GM spokesperson Jim Cain. 

NEVS Communications Director Mikael Östlund said in an email interview that the company and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) had signed a confidentiality agreement that prevented them from divulging how much Turkey paid for the project. 

“The development of Turkey’s first national car will take around three years. All test vehicles and prototypes as well as pre-produced vehicles will be made by us. We’ll make the production until a production facility is established in Turkey. NEVS will continue to support the initiative with a potential industrial partner in Turkey by sharing the know-how it has. The mass production will not be undertaken by NEVS,” he said. 

He noted TÜBİTAK did not buy all the rights, but only the intellectual property rights of the 9-3 sedan platform. 

“NEVS produced a total of 450 Saab 9-3 MY14 model cars so far. It is not clear whether we’ll continue our production under the Saab brand. Saab is in talks with the European Union, and the details will be clear by next year,” he said.