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Fate of Imported American Cars in Limbo

Due to the complexity of the global supply chain, when automotive dealers purchase vehicles in regional markets, the exact location of the factory from where they are originally produced is not known until delivery
Major carmakers hit by the ban include some models by Toyota, BMW, Volvo and Honda.Major carmakers hit by the ban include some models by Toyota, BMW, Volvo and Honda.

The fate of 1,910 cars made in the United States under European and East Asian brands remains unclear with the Traffic Police refusing to give the vehicles registration plates due to a previous diktat that banned sales of US-produced vehicles in Iran.

Secretary of the board of directors of the Auto Importers Guild, Mahdi Dadfar, said the cars were imported legally prior to the ruling, and thus should be allowed to be registered and sold, Tasnim News Agency reported.

The brands currently affected by the ban include certain models by Toyota, BMW, Volvo and Honda. In the case of Honda it is a limited number of their CR-V models which were affected and for BMW the 4 Series model.

   Leader’s Ruling

After a directive in April 2016 by the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the import of cars produced and/or assembled in American factories, even by non-US based firms, was banned.

Due to the complexity of the global supply chain, when automotive dealers purchase vehicles in regional markets, the exact location of the factory from where they are originally produced is not known until delivery.

Prior to the Leader’s instructions, the rule was loosely imposed on cars produced on US soil but under the brand name of a non-US firm. Such vehicles entered Iran freely and were registered without any hassle.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s ruling stated that US-made cars imported into Iran’s free trade zones are also included in the ban. Previously, the last place in the country where one could drive a new Camero, were the Persian Gulf islands like Kish and Qeshm.  

After the directive, the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade allowed the placing of orders for such vehicles for eight months, and only put a halt to the process in January.

  Traffic Police Rules

However, Traffic Police stopped giving the vehicles registration plates since last November, effectively rendering the cars un-roadworthy.

In an official letter, the ministry demanded an explanation from the police, but has not received a satisfactory response yet, it said.

The importers guild has filed a complaint in the courts to determine the fate of the American cars.

Traffic Police Chief Taqi Mehri in response said, “Traffic Police operate under the country’s laws and mandates.”

“Registration plates are issued for all vehicles whose imports are permitted by the ministry,” he says.

  No Recalling Process

But Dadfar said, “The cars have been sold and cannot be returned or recalled.” He did not explain  why the cars cannot be recalled.

Earlier in February, it was reported that Iranian importers who sold such vehicles have called on the owners to return the vehicles to the relevant authorities. Under Iran’s Consumer Protection Law, the companies are obliged to recall the units which have already been sold but don’t have a license plate.

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