Iran in the Driving Seat
Iran has announced the production of a new car, called the Dena, with models costing between 14,000-25,000 US dollars.
Although three other cars, also designed by Iranians and manufactured in the country, have emerged in recent years, officials say the Dena is unprecedented because all the parts have been designed and made in Iran – although some industry experts have raised questions about the latter claim.
Car production is the country’s second largest industry behind oil-and-gas extraction. The two huge car-manufacturing operations in Iran – Iran Khodro and Saipa – along with several small private companies turned out about 1,600,000 cars last year.
According to the international Association of Car Manufacturers, Iran ranks 13th among the world’s car manufacturers and is the largest producer in the Islamic world and the Middle-East.
Another one of Iran’s home-grown cars, the Samand, is exported to Iraq, Algeria and Nigeria and it has factories operating in Syria and Venezuela.
The car industry is of great strategic importance for the Iranian authorities and governments in the past have always emphasised the need to ensure the industry remains independent. The current regime has passed strict laws for importing foreign cars so that the market of made-in-Iran vehicles – which are of inferior quality - is not endangered.
Despite the high price and limited variety of the domestic brands, young Iranians like their cars notwithstanding the lack of choice and the market for accessories – many of them decorative - is very good.
High fuel consumption and associated pollution have prompted the authorities to encourage the production of gas-fueled vehicles as well as research into and design of solar and electric- powered ones.
Last month, the second solar car, called Ghazal Irani 2 (Iranian gazelle), which was made in Tehran University, was successfully tested.
Six years ago, Iran stopped manufacturing the popular Peykan - based on the British car the Hillman Hunter - after four decades.