EVs in New Bid to Impress Dormant Auto Market

Economic Translator
Electric cars are struggling to gain a foothold in Iran’s saturated auto market that for reasons more than one has shown few signs of adjusting to electric cars
An electric version of Runna would cost 960 million rials ($27,400).  An electric version of Runna would cost 960 million rials ($27,400).
Low demand and lack of infrastructure for the production of EVs are key factors why carmakers in Iran have little to no interest in manufacturing environmentally-friendly vehicles.

The first International Smart Products and Services Expo was held July 13-16 in Tehran Municipality’s Specialized Exhibition Center where electric vehicles were more visible.

Among other things, the event’s aim was to display technological services and eco-friendly products. Big names in the automotive sector, both importers and manufacturers of electric vehicles were present.

The expo was sponsored by the Energy Ministry’s Niroo Research Institute (NRI).

Moreover, the NRI’s Electric Vehicles Center (EVC) was also present, displaying its latest achievement, including a locally produced hybrid gasoline-electric car, based on Iran Khodro’s Runna platform.

Established in 2015 by the Rouhani administration, EVC is to encourage local companies to concentrate on the production of EVs and hybrids.

According to an EVC official present at the event, the center has approached IKCO but the latter has shown no interest in pooling minds and resources in eco-friendly vehicles.

Unlike international automakers that provide scientific institutions with funds and vehicles, Jalal Al-Din Mehr told Financial Tribune that IKCO has asked to be paid by EVC to provide its cars to be used for tests.

International automakers intensive investment in research and development has provided them with the cutting edge technologies in production of EVs.

Mehr added that if IKCO starts production of the refitted Runna, which will be equipped with a hybrid gasoline-electric engine, the model will cost less than 1 billion rials ($26,000) in the market. Currently, the gasoline-only model comes at about 344 million rials ($9,000).

High cost, unpredictable market and lack of strong oversight are the main hurdles to the production of EVs in Iran, according to a recent study conducted by Majlis (parliament) Research Center.

“An electric version of Runna would cost 960 million rials ($27,400), three times its current price,” the report said. “An electric Tiba would cost 600 million rials ($17,100) while it currently sells for 240 million ($6,800)” the influential think tank said. It implied that there would be few buyers (if any) of these domestic models that already are at lowest end to the quality index in the saturated auto market.

 Private Firms Offering EVs

After the EVC, another company conspicuous with its presence was the local automaker Karmania, the official representative and production partner of China’s BYD.

The company showed an imported BYD E6 with livery on it reading “Zero Emission”. The E6 is an all-electric 5-seat family wagon.

BYD produces its S6 model in Iran. However, according to Karmania sales manager, Sepehr Khajavi, the automaker has no intention to locally produce the E6.

He pointed to low demand and the lack of infrastructure for the production of EVs as the reasons why carmakers in Iran have little to no interest in manufacturing environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Khajavi noted that the biggest challenge for importers of electric cars into Iran is bringing the batteries into the country since the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs are highly explosive and transporting them has proved to be dangerous.

Currently, only Saba Battery, a major local manufacturer, has been able to produce batteries for the EVs.

In addition to Karmania, other companies active in the sector were also present at the four-day event. Aria Khodro Simay Sabz, a subsidiary of Aria Holding, unveiled its electric vehicles that move people in big enclosures like airports, hospitals, and cemeteries.

Diar Khodro, an independent auto producer, was also present showcasing two of its new EVs, the Sabrina E150 and E200.

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