Daimler expects heavy Chinese competition in Iran

Daimler truck chief Wolfgang Bernhard predicts impending face-off with Chinese auto-makers in Iran

Daimler CV is managing its operations in Iran out of its regional headquarters in Dubai.
Daimler CV is managing its operations in Iran out of its regional headquarters in Dubai.

Daimler AG is bracing for a fight in the reopened market with now-entrenched Chinese rivals.

The firm is working to regain its position as one of the leading truck-masters in Iran after a six-year absence. 

“The chairs we used to sit on in Iran weren’t left empty when we were gone,” Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler’s trucks division, told Bloomberg at a briefing with reporters in Stuttgart, Germany. “Chinese competitors now sit in these chairs.”

The German automaker has moved fast to re-establish ties with Iran, signing preliminary agreements in January with Iran Khodro, the country’s largest auto producer. Daimler, the world’s largest truck-maker, sees demand in the market eventually on par with Turkey at about 40,000 trucks a year.

Before dropping business in Iran in 2010 amid international sanctions against the country’s nuclear-research program, Daimler had sold as many as 10,000 vehicles there a year.

Daimler is looking to Iran to help offset weakness in its more established markets. At the same time, China’s slowdown has put pressure on companies like the Dongfeng Motor Group to expand overseas.

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