Iran Khodro (IKCO)'s Crossover Addiction

IKCO's Crossover AddictionIKCO's Crossover Addiction

Iran Khodro's announcement of producing Dongfeng's H30 Cross on the western edge of Tehran has got some Iranians excited about the possibility of owning a station wagon again, but is that the case?

Popular in some markets and with brief stints of popularity in Iran, station wagons have always had their own specific patrons willing to spend the cash for extra space. However, in recent years, the number of people buying station wagons around the world has been gradually dropping.

In the US, for instance, the station wagon, like in much of the car-buying world, is becoming a rare sight.

Buyers are opting for high-chassis vehicles due to the false notion of getting a better offroad ride and feeling more secure, though there is no evidence to support this claim. And the same could be the case in Iran too, as Iran Khodro's announcement of producing two high-chassis vehicles by two Chinese car companies suggests.

In November 2015, IKCO established an assembly line for producing the Chinese Haima S7 and the line became operational within just 11 months. According to a report in QZ, Americans bought sports utility vehicles in their droves, with the Subaru Outback becoming one of the most popular cars in the US market. It quickly became clear that Americans have embraced the model.

“In 2007, Subaru sold 35,763 Outbacks and also 2,140 Legacy wagons,” says Daniel Pund, deputy editor of Car and Driver magazine.

In contrast, station wagons in Europe are seemingly becoming more popular. Strong demand for station wagons has helped the decline of the midsize car segment in the European market.  According to Automotive News last October, demand for cars like the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo has helped the segment sell over 600,000 vehicles in the years to 2015. This is while SUVs are gradually carving a bigger market share.

In 2014, European sales of midsize wagons notched 543,607, according to JATO Dynamics. The report noted that the segment had shrunk from a peak of 866,000 units in 2011. The decline in interest in the former family-wagon is becoming more and more noticeable. In contrast, with an increase of 13% to 1,227,950 units, the midsize crossover segment in Europe has grown for the sixth consecutive year, almost doubling its volume since 2009.

  The Decline of Station Wagon

However, sales in the Iranian market have not been favorable. In the past few years, few if any station wagons have been produced inside Iran, with only a handful of cars being imported.

According to statistics from the Iran Customs Administration, the import of station wagons to the country comprised a fraction of the overall number of vehicles.

Imported vehicles consisted of brands like Hyundai, Kia and Toyota, in addition to one or two Mercedes-Benz station wagons, according to local website forums.

Now, with the introduction of Dongfeng's H30 Cross, the prospects for the sub-sector remain weak in the next few years.  In previous years, demand for station wagons in the Iranian market declined, especially with the introduction of more functional SUVs.

The numbers were relatively low compared with other regional markets like the Commonwealth of Independent States and production of the 405 wagon became unfeasible. Iran Khodro seems to have realized the winds of change and agreed to launch the Chinese-derived H30 Cross.

According to a local Iran Khodro dealership, the vehicle's price is estimated to start at 430 million Iranian rials ($9,000), though it is not official and only estimated currently. Unfortunately for station wagon lovers, Iranians prefer sedan cars more, which is in line with the trends seen in other warmer countries like Spain which, according to ANE, also prefer sedans to wagons (42% to 28%).

In fact, a majority of Spaniards seem to go for the hatchback variant of most cars.


  About the Vehicle

The Fengshen H30 Cross gets the usual cross-treatment with loads of extra black plastic and roofrails.

Engines: old 1.6 with 104 hp and 142 nm, and a new 1.5 with 116 hp and 145 nm. Transmission: 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. The exact details about the car in the Iranian market are not known yet.

As a sports variant, the H30 has its roots in the first-generation Citroen Elysee produced by Dongfeng-PSA, which has also been rumored to be entering the Iranian market in the coming year.  

The Cross was launched in April 2010 at the Beijing Motor Show and hit the market on April 19, 2011. In April 2013, a facelifted version was released, which shares the 1.5L and 1.6L powertrain options with the S30. In 2013, the Cross became the only H30 version sold in the market, as Dongfeng stopped producing the H30 hatchback. Iran is expected—according to the pictures showing the vehicle—to be getting the facelifted version. Under the contract to assemble by Iran Khodro Group, the group will produce a set number of the vehicles next year, though the precise number has not been released by the company.

According to, the car has been available in the market for the past few months, being produced under a similar deal with a Russian car assembler. Reports from Russia have been generally positive about the vehicle, especially since that market has been hammered by a currency devaluation.

The good news is that people can start registering their interest for the vehicle now with deliveries expected in the next few weeks.