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Turkish government buys rights to Saab 9-3

The 9-3 will be transformed into a so-called \"Turkish national car.\"

The Turkish government has announced that it has purchased the right to build the aging second-generation Saab 9-3 from National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS).

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) has been working with NEVS over the past few months to transform the 13-year old 9-3 into what the government calls a "Turkish national car." Official details aren't available yet, but the camouflaged prototypes (pictured) that were recently shown to government officials appear to be heavily influenced by the 9-3-based Cadillac BLS that was briefly sold in Europe.

The design hasn't been finalized yet so the Cadillac influence could be toned down for production. Regardless of what it ends up looking like, the sedan won't wear the Saab name or the Griffin emblem.

"We bought the Saab 9-3's intellectual property rights, but not its name," explained a spokesperson for TÜBITAK in an interview on Turkish television.

The deal is beneficial for both parties involved. On one hand, it's a way for troubled NEVS to generated much-needed cash by putting its assets to work and to keep its investors satisfied. On the other hand, it gives the Turkish government quick access to a proven platform upon which to develop a car. How much the rights were purchased for hasn't been made public, but a source close to the matter said the 9-3 was "very affordable."

Although Turkey's 9-3 will launch with gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines, TÜBITAK ultimately hopes to develop an all-electric version of the sedan. At least 85 percent of the parts that make up the car will be built locally.

When TÜBITAK's version of the Saab 9-3 will be introduced is up in the air. It will be built with the Turkish market in mind, but authorities already have plans to export the car to neighboring nations -- notably those situated in the Middle East -- in order to give the economy a boost.

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