EVs in Iran: Where We Stand

Auto and Tech Desk
Iran’s car industry is in a state of flux, but where do EV’s fall?
A sole Mitsubishi i-Miev made it to Iran, but its location is now unknown.
A sole Mitsubishi i-Miev made it to Iran, but its location is now unknown.
Iran Khodro signed a MoU last year with two of Iran’s universities to design and produce hybrid and electric vehicles

There’s a lot of talk this week about the development of the electric car industry globally, with several car companies announcing their new landmark deals and electric driving range.

That’s all well and good for the international consumer – it is mostly America and Europe who are leading the way in any case – but where is Iran in 2016 in the battle to clean the streets from the dirty polluting engines?

To understand where electric vehicles, and hybrids to a further extent play in the wider mix of vehicles in cities like Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz and Esfahan one needs to understand where the local car companies have got to – or haven’t for that matter.

Iran’s push for electric vehicles started when President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, from that point the industry has moved in a spluttering fashion, with mostly press releases making the bulk of the news, but little or no real change for the car buyers themselves.

There is a growing fascination among car owners themselves with at least half a dozen Persian language electric vehicle blogs being written, but these mainly focus on the foreign developments.

Recapping, back in 2014, someone in Iran imported a Mitsubishi i-Miev electric car to the country, though no more of these have entered the country. It amused the journalists at the time. But we need much more than this.

More recently, more significant events have occurred which could possibly (here’s hoping) spell the end of the gasoline powered Iranian car.

Most recently, Iran Khodro’s CEO, Hashem Yekezare, confirmed a South Korean press statement that his company is in talks with LG Chem to jointly develop electric-powered vehicles.

The news, which Financial Tribune reported in May, marked a turning point for Iran’s largest automaker, which shows that it is actually thinking beyond CKDs and SKDs for the first time and beyond refashioning old Peugeots.

The long-term plan has not been made public by either side and the initial press release seems to be the only news on the development. But we hope for further information.

In his announcement of the proposed deal, Yekezare said “negotiations are underway”, according to a Bloomberg report on the deal.

The director also said he hoped the deal would be ready by this autumn – we still have not heard more on the deal.

 Hybrids Leading the Race

Hybrids too, have had a growth in interest from several sections of the market.

Back in July 2015 Iran Khodro signed a MoU with two of Iran’s universities to design and produce hybrid and electric vehicles. But nothing has come out as of yet from this deal.  

Taxi companies have begun to shift from single-fuel vehicles to hybrids of electric-gasoline mix, with over 100 models now in use in the Greater Tehran region.

Several of these taxis are now also being used as airport taxis by dozens of companies pushing the image of their clean ambitions. But, in all this, Iran still has a long way to go and the production of hybrid cars, to all best intentions is still not an option from any of the local car companies.

The only hybrids making it to the country, oddly, are the more expensive Toyota’s and Lexus’ which price-out the majority of the population.

So, where next for Iran’s car industry? Who knows, but as one car manufacturing executive said: “People will not put up with old designs for ever.”