Americans Eyeing Iran Auto Market

Americans Eyeing Iran Auto Market
Americans Eyeing Iran Auto Market

Unnamed US automakers have contacted Iranian auto officials expressing their willingness to cooperate, ISNA reported, citing a board member of the Automobile Supplier Association on Sunday.

"Through some intermediaries, American automakers expressed a strong desire for mutual investment in Iran's auto industry," said Sassan Ghorbani. "Iran's auto market is attractive for foreign automakers."

Ghorbani added that Americans have already conducted market research and are eager to return to Iran's auto market with gusto, after many years.  The board member expressed optimism over the presence of the American automakers in the Iranian market once sanctions are lifted. General Motors (GM) did in the past run multiple production lines for different vehicles throughout Iran. However, due to strained political relations between Tehran and Washington, the company pulled out in 1981.

In 2012, Peugeot was forced by GM to suspend the supply of spare parts to Iran.

In an article published in France's Le Monde, Iranian ambassador to France Ali Ahani, said that GM had exerted pressure on its French partner to end trade with Iran as US sanctions increased on the country at the time.

GM then exported a number of Camaros to Iran in last summer via Azerbaijan,” he wrote in an article for French Daily Le Figaro. The company was able to exploit a loophole in US-imposed sanctions, said the French newspaper. However, it was later discovered that the cars were destined for Iran's free zones, whose bylaws do not restrict the sale of American vehicles within the respective boundaries.

If American companies like GM are given the green light to enter joint production with IKCO or Saipa, it is likely that French companies already active in the Iranian market will have a tough situation competing with the automakers. Other American automakers, have been rumored to be looking closely at the Iranian market Last September, the Financial Tribune reported that Tesla, the American electric car startup, was in talks with Iranian auto manufacturers, however the company when asked by foreign media declined to comment. If the nuclear deal can be completed by the June deadline, it is likely that the rumors of Americans discussing auto cooperation will turn into public announcements by local manufacturers.