Nobody saw this car launch coming. And now they can’t stop talking about Mada 9.
The Taliban last week unveiled the prototype of Afghanistan’s first indigenously developed supercar, manufactured by Kabul-based Entop.
Mada 9 comes from a war-torn and dirt-poor country whose ruling militia is best known to use Toyota pick-ups and SUVs for its personnel to drive around the country’s rugged terrain. Even last year, when the Taliban were regaining control over Afghanistan, Toyota vehicles were their warhorses, not expensive and sophisticated military vehicles.
The Taliban’s love for Toyota goes back to the mid-1990s. In 1996, when it captured Kabul, after killing the then-president, and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, its fighters often drove Toyota’s Hilux pickups.
So what is it between the Taliban and Toyota?
There’s a long list that makes the brand Taliban’s favorite: from low maintenance costs to disability and from ruggedness to dependability. But most importantly, perhaps, the vehicles were “ideal platforms for intimidation and enforcement,” according to The New York Times in 2001.
The Taliban’s love for Toyotas is evident in Mada 9, too. The new car is embedded with a four-cylinder engine, the same one that powers Corolla, one of the Japanese carmaker’s most popular models.
The Corolla engine has been modified in such a way that “if you increase the speed, it’s powerful enough to take it,” Ghulam Haidar Shahamat, the head of Afghanistan Technical Vocational Institute (ATVI), told Afghanistan’s TOLO News at the time of the launch. Entop collaborated with ATVI to produce Mada 9.
Built by a team of over 30 engineers from Entop and ATVI, Mada 9 will also be available in an electric variant soon. The Kabul-based firm plans to sell the new car in Afghanistan initially before taking it global.
Entop is keeping its supercar’s price under wraps. It is also being tight-lipped on the vehicle’s performance data. It hasn’t set a timeframe for Mada 9's mass production either.