Why Iran Produces No Vans?

Why Iran Produces No Vans?Why Iran Produces No Vans?

Iran's commercial vehicle market continues to expand at an exponential rate with new offerings from both major local automotive companies Iran Khodro and SAIPA developing pickup variants of their models.

The most recent of these new cannibalized efforts are the Peugeot 405 pickups otherwise known as "Vanettes" and also for the smaller budget SAIPA Pride 151 model.

There is a third vehicle available to Iranian commercial car owners as well—the more expensively priced Renault Logan pickup offered by Renault Iran.

Of small commercial vehicles, these three pickups are as good as it gets. All three are used for a hundred different uses, but all have the same disadvantage (advantage to some), that is they are all non-roofed vehicles.

That's right. Iran does not actually produce one single van a year; they only produce open-topped versions of car-based vehicles, which people must modify with third-party covers—some better than others.

This apparent hole in the market can be explained by a couple of very locally specific issues: driving culture and lack of variety.

Up until very recently (2013 in fact), there was only one small commercial vehicle available to the entire country. Called Bardo, the small pickup truck was based off Britain's old Hillman Hunter.

In addition to these vehicles, Bahman Group, a producer more famous for assembling the Mazda 3 model, also produces a limited selection of pickups based off the older Mazda vehicles used in the 1980s and 1990s, but still no roofed vans.

Zamyad Khodro sells a selection of commercial vehicles in the local market. The company produces several large pickups based on Chinese models, but manufactures minibuses derived from Italy's IVECO brand. A majority of these minibuses have been used in public transportation fleet by the government and private companies in recent years.

There is also another large people carrier van called the Fiat Ducato, which is supposedly supplied by a company named Lotus. There have been sightings of these vehicles on the road, but their supply appears to be limited.

When Financial Tribune contacted the company for further information, it declined to comment.

  Culture vs. Demand

These archaic vans, which were broadly based on the original sedan car model only had minor changes made to their suspension systems. Beyond that, no industrialization was done to prepare them for the haul of hundreds of kilos, apart from the new Renault Tondar (Logan) modification.  

However, the lifting of western sanctions against Iran has breathed a new lease of life into the commercial vehicle market, with French and German original equipment manufacturers interested in marketing their vehicles.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan in its Strategic Overview of the Commercial Vehicle Market in Iran finds that the commercial vehicle market is expected to grow to 320,148 units in 2022 from 160,107 units in 2015, at a compound annual growth rate of 10.4%.

But since sanctions were removed, no foreign van manufacturer has made a concerted effort to fill the space in the commercial vehicle market, bar Renault.

Financial Tribune reached out to Renault Iran that operates as the local subsidiary of the famous French brand. It responded by saying that their offering of Renault Logan pickup will likely expand in the near future.

"In the coming years, Renault will introduce other light commercial vehicles and new pickups in Iran in the mid-term plan for 2017–20. This will be complementary offers, in addition to Tondar Pickup,” according to the company's Communications Department.

Peugeot, on the other hand, is making great claims about returning to the market, but has made no comments in recent months about expanding their range beyond passenger vehicles.

Iran Khodro's Press Department was also non-responsive on the matter, suggesting that beyond their offering of rehashed Peugeot 405 pickup, they have no plans to expand their LCV market.

Another auto company also seems to be ramping up its commercial van presence in the Islamic Republic. Shiraz Auto Show, the largest in southwest Iran, which is currently underway, showcased the Hyundai H350 large-panel van.

Hyundai says the H350 will be sold with both cargo and passenger configurations with three body types. The powertrain comes with two separate tunes on the same 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine.