Iran to build own hybrid cars within three years

Iran Khodro signs deal with two universities to have hybrid cars roll off the production line by 2018

Iranian technicians work on parts for Peugeot 206 cars at the Iran Khodro auto plant, west of Tehran.
Iranian technicians work on parts for Peugeot 206 cars at the Iran Khodro auto plant, west of Tehran.

Iran Khodro, an Iranian automaker, has signed an MoU agreement with Iran’s tech-geared Sharif and Amir Kabir Universities to design and build hybrid and electric cars, with the first models expected to roll off the production line within the next three years.

Hossein Farsani, deputy head for planning and strategy at Iran Khodro, said he expected the world to witness a “major revolution” in the production of electric vehicles, noting that the number of such cars rose from just 25,000 in 2010 to 405,000 units in 2013.

Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, the minister for industry, noted that the government was also preparing a support package to promote such cars as part of a long-term fuel economy plan, adding that hybrid cars could cut fuel consumption by two-thirds.

“This package is a prerequisite to the promotion of hybrid and electric cars in Iran, because such automobiles must be produced and presented to the market for customers to buy them,” he informed Iran Daily.

Hybrid and electric vehicle are also seen as a potential solution to Iran’s chronic air pollution with in its major cities, a problem that was exacerbated by Western sanctions, which starved Iran’s assembly-based automotive industry of quality parts.

In March 2014, Iran dropped tariffs on the import of hybrid and electric vehicles with engine capacities of 2,500cc or less, in the hopes of encouraging the sector, and subsequently welcomed the first electric vehicles from overseas in June the same year.

Iran’s Qazvin Islamic Azad University meanwhile unveiled a prototype two-seater electric vehicle in January 2015 that strongly resembled the Renault Twizy, suggesting possible collaboration with French carmaker’s Iranian division.

Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported that the car took one year to complete, coinciding with the easing of economic sanctions in early 2014, adding that 450 parts in the car were fabricated by university researchers.

At around the same time Renault resumed shipments of car parts to its Iranian joint-venture, Renault Pars – a low-volume trade also enables the production of the Tondar, an Iranian version of Renault’s low-cost Logan car.

According to the Iran Daily, Iran’s auto industry remains the largest in the Middle East, while Iran Khodro represents the largest single manufacturer.

It is hope that further reductions in import tariffs could help to restore domestic production and improve the degree of competition to the industry.

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