Iran Auto Expo Opens

Iran Auto Expo Opens
Iran Auto Expo Opens

The First Iran Automotive Capabilities Exhibition opened on Sunday with the participation of 212 local automotive firms.

Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh also attended the inaugural event, ILNA reported.

In addition to leading carmakers like Iran Khodro Company, SAIPA, Kerman Motor and Bahman Group, the expo also features firms specialized in auto parts, machinery, leasing and sales, after-sales services and investment.

The exhibition, held at Tehran's International Fairground, is open to the public between 12-8 p.m. and ends on Wednesday.

Leading automotive manufacturer, IKCO, unveiled the latest Peugeot models slated to enter the domestic market in the next Iranian year (starting March 20). These models are Peugeot 208, 2008 and 301, as well as Peugeot 508, 208 and 207.

To present the potentials of Iran's automotive industry, increase awareness on environmentally-friendly auto design and empower the industry with regard to quality and industrial design, IKCO will host educational workshops. Those who attend will receive participation certificates.  

From France, Renault is showcasing Captur and Clio at the event. Chinese companies have a strong presence, as Dongfeng brought its H30 and S30 models, while JAC displays the S5. Also from China, Lifan's X60 and Haval's H9 are also on show.

Scania of Sweden has showcased the R999 convertible that is said to be the world's fastest truck.

On the sidelines of the events, a number of well-known Iranian automotive designers will be honored, test drives of cars will be organized and carting and racing events have also been planned.

Also, a pavilion is exclusively dedicated to showcasing classic cars.

Alongside the exhibition, the Third Iran International Automotive Conference is hosting 359 Iranian and 121 foreign automotive firms from Feb. 29-March 1.

Sixteen top foreign car manufacturing firms, including Volvo, Scania, Peugeot, Fiat and Kia, are participating in the confab.

Sasan Qorbani, the event's secretary, said five Chinese firms are among the participating firms. He noted that 14 foreign firms took part in last year's event, most of which were Chinese, IRNA reported.

Along with state-led carmakers Iran Khodro Company and SAIPA, six Iranian automotive firms from the private sector are also in attendance.

Other notable foreign companies to take part this year are Daimler, Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.   

Qorbani announced that four memoranda of understanding are to be signed between Iran's Auto Parts Manufacturers Association and their counterparts from Turkey, France, Britain and India.

"The MoUs will focus on establishing the infrastructures for future cooperation," he said.

He added that Renault will also meet with Iranian auto parts manufacturers to plan development and production operations in Iran.

The official pointed to the importance of "competitiveness" as one of the key highlights of the event.

"Increasing customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors for boosting competitiveness. This can be attained by improving production quality and after-sales services, and by implementing better pricing schemes for cars," he said.

Qorbani noted that "flexibility in production and timely delivery of vehicles" are also effective in increasing competitiveness and will be discussed in the conference.

Amirhossein Qanati, executive board member at SAIPA, said 15 specialized meeting have also been scheduled.

"The meetings will focus on a range of issues such as investment models, opportunities for cooperation, advanced technologies, commercial vehicles, environment and social corporate responsibilities," he said.   

Foreign companies that have so far been negotiating a deal to set up a joint venture in Iran include VW, Mercedes Benz, Fiat, Volvo, Isuzu and Mazda.

With the entry of new competitors, Iran's auto industry is expecting a major shift in the coming months.

Car Industry Optimistic, Promising

Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh inaugurated the country’s latest automotive exhibition in Tehran on February 28.

"At present, the talk is only about importing parts and assembling them in the country for the local market," Mehdi Sepahvand wrote for the Trend, lamenting the lack of a major initiative to indigenize the industry.

However, automakers were among the first Iranian companies to seize the moment to sign deals with foreigners after economic sanctions against Iran were lifted on January 16. They insist that foreigners don't consider Iran as a consumer market alone, but also launch production here with the aim of exporting 30% of their output.

Ebrahim Doostzadeh, engineering CEO at Samfar Company, said Iran’s car industry, like other industries, is threatened by China, which offers low-price products, thanks mostly to its low labor wages.

Iran Khodro recently accompanied President Hassan Rouhani to France in his first post-sanctions European tour to sign a big deal with Peugeot, which will tighten its grip on the Iranian market with prospects of importing three models in one year.

The company has since announced it will produce the 301, 208 and 2008 models accordingly.

Iran's top carmakers are in talks with international counterparts interested in launching joint ventures here.

The fairground is full of vehicles that are put together in the country’s vast automotive industry.

Nader Farrokh, a board member of Azin Khodro Company, which imports parts, including from Renault, said his company is seeking to import more parts if the domestic factories so demand. Iranians used to yearn for quality foreign cars before sanctions crippled the industry. Now, they can expect more modern cars to roll out of the national car industry.