With assistance from the government of Turkey, a new electric car has reached the prototype phase and has just completed a successful two week tour of the Balkans. “Our car will be better and safer than Tesla’s car,” said Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Isik, as quoted by Hurriyet Daily News. The car is called Pehlivan Elektrak. Pehlivan means “wrestler” in Turkish, according to the Washington Post. Its design was the winning entry in a competition sponsored by the national government.

Pehlivan electric car from Turkey

Okay. Let’s stop right there. Safer than a Tesla? That is a powerful claim to make, especially when Teslas have proven in government crash testing and in real world driving to be some of the safest cars ever built. Just last week, 5 teenagers walked away from a high speed crash that happened after one of the teens “borrowed” here daddy’s brand new Tesla Model S and promptly drove it off the road and up an embankment. The car pitch poled through the air to land 82 feet away.

The front of the car was demolished, but the passenger compartment survived intact. The doors still functioned, allowing the teens to exit the vehicle. The windshield sustained a mighty wallop as the hood was torn from the car but was otherwise intact after setting the world record for the longest distance ever flown by an electric car.

The Tesla Model S and Model X both earned a 5 star rating in the US and in Europe. In fact, during a test of roof strength, the Model S broke the test equipment. Safer than a Tesla? It’s hard to take anything else the minister has to say seriously after that unsubstantiated claim.

What makes the Pehlivan better electric car than a Tesla? “While they need to establish charging stations, we will integrate the charging station into the car thanks to a developed engine which extends the car’s range,” Says Isik. There is no mention made of a plug to charge the car without using the engine. Apparently, the car is a hybrid. Turkey has invented the Toyota Prius, only ten years later. That’s wonderful news.

Last year, the Turkish government announced it will coordinate with Saab in its bid to launch a new “national car” fueled by electricity. “We will need a producer to start manufacturing,” Isik told reporters. “We will announce crucial cooperation deals for this part very soon.” The minister thinks Turkey’s domestic electric-car project will be able to compete with electric car ventures from Tesla, Google and other companies.

Yes, it will compete, but how successfully? From the little information available, The Pehlivan, which looks like a larger version of the original Honda Insight, will be like bringing a broomstick to a home run derby. Good luck with that.

Photo credit: Washington Post