Iranians Absent From Frankfurt Motor Show

Iranians Absent From  Frankfurt Motor Show
Iranians Absent From  Frankfurt Motor Show

Next week the Frankfurt Motor Show will kick off for its latest iteration to display the world's latest automotive achievements.

Carmakers and auto part producers will also give a glimpse into their plans for 2017 and beyond.

However, not every major automaker will be attending this year's event scheduled for Sept. 17-27. Some American companies, including Cadillac and Lincoln, have announced they will not attend. Britain's McLaren and Aston Martin will also not be displaying their latest wares.

Most of the other carmakers will use the show as an opportunity to push the boundaries of the automotive world with their technologically advanced vehicles.

The headline acts of this year show include a new model from Bentley, the Rolls-Royce we mention in another article as well as an upgraded Renault Megane (Scala) aiming to go further upmarket. Ferrari, meanwhile, will show off the Spider version of its turbocharged 488 GTB. The open-top exotic will have the same perfected 661-hp, twin-turbocharged, mid-mounted V-8 engine as the coupe version but with a retractable roof.

The price tag will likely hit $275,000, roughly $30,000 more than the 488 GTB’s base price but about equal to the McLaren 650S Spider. These prices are expected to be the international standard rather than those from local currencies.

Bugatti has revealed the first image of its Vision Gran Turismo to be presented at the Frankfurt event. When your standard is a 987+ hp quad-turbo 8.0-liter W16, your car's all but guaranteed to be a virtual contender.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will use Frankfurt to debut multiple models integral to their plans to dominate luxury volumes for 2016. BMW will show the 7 Series, 3 Series and X1, while sister brand Mini will show the all-new Mini Clubman. Mercedes will show the S-Class Cabriolet, C63 Coupe and C-Class Coupe; sister brand Smart will debut the 2017 Fortwo Cabrio. They are each updates, meant to refresh and progress the brand.

  Iranian Perspective

Although these international brands overshadow most midsized producers, Iran's automakers will not be seen this year because they have decided not to participate.  Domestic auto-parts makers are also absent from the event.

A recent meeting of domestic automotive officials last month announced that none of Iran's three major carmakers is going to the event.

They did mention that they would send officials to the event and are "partnering" with foreign car companies. What partnering means in this context remains a mystery?

Even in the past, Iran's automotive companies largely abstained from international auto exhibitions. Whatever it is, it's not out of embarrassment. At home, they have been as cheeky as ever for the past many decades. Over the last five years, they have pretended that sanctions were behind their absence.

Auto-part makers too, who often decry the foreign parts makers for trespassing on their monopolized terrain, have kept away from events like the Frankfurt event. However, reckless companies, such as the neighboring Turkish competitors, attend the event to size themselves up.

Understandably, Iranian carmakers avoid international auto fairs primarily due to the dearth of vehicles having anything worth boasting. For instance, Iran Khodro has rolled out Samand for the past 12 years–an immeasurable amount of time for one model to be produced–and that car is the leading domestic vehicle in terms of production numbers.

However, newer vehicles like IKCO's Dena, which was released earlier this year, could be presented as an affordable car for emerging markets provided it is priced reasonably, even if it is based on the Peugeot 405 platform. Same goes for Saipa's Tiba, a locally produced small hatchback and sedan model.

The Tiba, with a price tag of over $7,000, will find it difficult to compete with emerging market rivals such as the Renault KWID and Maruti-Suzuki's models produced in India.

Then there are auto-part manufacturers who, considering the low overheads in terms of raw materials and staffing costs, could compete with their European and East Asian rivals.

In recent years, Iran's car industry has moved toward indigenization, so much so that Peugeot 206s have been made with entirely locally sourced parts, something PSA-Peugeot Citroen has turned a blind eye to, considering their abrupt departure post-2013.

Granted, top-tier events like Frankfurt may not be Iranian car companies' main choice for displaying their products, but they can at least expect a level playing field. And, as a post-sanctions environment brings with it new challenges over the next year, Iranian carmakers should overhaul their old ways of poor public relations and poorer accountability in an attempt to get away with pushing overpriced and low-quality cars in a monopolized market.