Economy, Auto

Iran Khodro Signs Deals With Domestic Universities, Major Foreign Firms for Future Products

Iran Khodro is seemingly moving ahead after years of poor research and development with cooperation contracts with major foreign automakers and affiliated companies
Several European and Asian companies signed deals on Tuesday with local auto industries to help build a new car platform.
Several European and Asian companies signed deals on Tuesday with local auto industries to help build a new car platform.
As part of the new multi-group deal, Iran Khodro says it will release a new car within 30 months

Iran Khodro Industrial Group, Iran's largest automaker, will produce several new models with the help of major local and foreign partners, including Pininfarina, Mahle, Hyundai PowerTech, Punch Powertrain, Benteler Automotive, Sharif University of Technology and Amir Kabir University of Technology.

Italian car design firm Pininfarina signed a €70 million 36-month contract with Iran's biggest car producer, Iran Khodro Group on Tuesday for the development of four new models and to give the carmaker a second wind in research and development of new models.

The agreement will help develop a modular automotive platform for four different vehicles, and the first passenger car of the medium segment of the market, a press release from the Italian firm said.

IKCO's wider goal is to produce 23 new models including hatchback sedans and crossovers when all the parties are ready, making the country the largest producer and design center in the region.

At a news conference at IKCO premises in Tehran, several European and East Asian auto parts makers signed deals with the local firm to help overhaul its parts catalogue currently in use.

As part of the new multi-group deal, Iran Khodro says it will release a new car within 30 months. This venture will be aided by local university graduates and engineering firms and help create much-needed jobs.

Iran’s Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, who was present at the signing ceremony said, “Iranian automakers need to invest in design and development to be able to compete with foreign firms.”

“Ties between our centers of higher learning and our industry should be enhanced. This will greatly benefit national industries.”

Auto Parts Deals

Hashem Yekkezare, the IKCO cheif, signed deals with several companies including contracts for auto axles, gearbox designs and jointly developed new engines.

Punch Powertrain of Belgium is doubling efforts to push ahead with plans to build automatic gearboxes for Iran's carmakers. The company signed its second big deal this year following its previous tie-up with IDRO.

Filip Forier, director of R&D at Punch Powertrain, who was present said, “Punch is aiming to expand its share in the international market through the joint venture with IKCO.”

He promised that Punch products will help improve air quality in the big cities. Most urban areas in Iran have been grappling with worsening air pollution blamed largely on the increasing numbers of gas guzzlers.

The company has not yet updated its website with exactly what part of the new design plan deal it is taking part in.  

Austria's Benteler Automotive, which also signed a deal, will design new axles. The company did not issue a press release, but the customer line director Alexis Bonnel said, "We don’t consider Iran a consumer market, but an industrial partner [for exports]."

Passenger security and safety are at the top of the firm's agenda for their part of the new deal, he added.

Low-Polluting Engines

Germany's Mahle also signed up for the new deal, and as part of their job for the new platform they will create new engines including low pollution emitting 1.2 and 1.5 liter dual fuel gasoline and compressed natural gas engines.

The engines to be designed and manufactured under the new deal will sport 120 to 160 horsepower (hp) and 285 Newton meter (Nm) of torque while meeting emission standards of Euro 6.

According to a previous report from Mehr News Agency, the new car fuel consumption is a frugal 4 to 4.7 liter per 100km.

“Engines will be manufactured with advanced technology and the contract will be implemented in a manner that requires complete transfer of technology and will be designed by IKCO experts,” Yekkezareh said following the deal.

The last foreign company to sign a deal at the ceremony was Hyundai PowerTech, a subsidiary of the giant South Korean firm which produces automatic gearboxes. The firm was represented by CEO Guangyu Lee.

Incorporated in 2001, Hyundai Powertech is a main auto parts manufacturer of Hyundai Motor Group, specializing in automotive transmissions.

The official website of IKCO estimates that implementation of all the projects would cost 100 trillion rials ($2.6 billion).

Electric Vehicles

Following the ceremony, the PR department of IKCO confirmed that all-electric vehicles are part of the new projects.

Sharif University and Amir Kabir University will collaborate with automakers in production and design procedure of EVs and hybrid cars.

Sharif will work on EV's while Amir Kabir will focus on electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles.

It was reported in May 2016, that LG Chem, an automotive battery maker for EVs signed a deal with IKCO to build the country's first all electric vehicle. The firm was not present at the signing event on Tuesday.

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