Iranians bitter as Peugeot plans return

PSA Peugeot Citroen took a French leave in 2012 after the Europeans intensified their sanctions on Iran. The carmaker’s brash bid to return to the country is raising hackles. 

The French carmaker is accused of caving into US pressure over Iran, which came after the company got into a tie-up with Detroit-based GM.

Peugeot slammed the door in the face of its second biggest market by volume after 23 years of partnership.

The ungracious departure made redundant a massive assembly line at Iran Khodro, with estimates putting the top Iranian carmaker’s losses around 800 million euros at minimum.

“In any case, Peugeot must pay for its past deeds and make up for them in some way,” Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said early this year.

Iran Khodro’s CEO Hashem Yekke-Zare is just back from Paris, saying his company “is seriously following up on the damage incurred” after Peugeot’s sudden withdrawal.

However, it’s business as usual and the two sides plan to set up a joint factory to resume production.

Economists say Iran must raise the bar and not give the French companies an easy pass. They say there are no guarantees that the automakers would not return to their old ways and leave Iran again under pressure.

“If Peugeot is to return with the same modality and condition, our automakers will never benefit from that and the return will only result in forcing inferior and old products onto the Iranians,” a professor of transportation at Allameh University of Tehran Ali Khaksar says.

Iranian technicians work on parts for Peugeot 206 cars at the Iran Khodro auto plant, west of Tehran.

Critics say Peugeot’s return to Iran is driven by its urge for fresh gains after years of heavy losses.

Peugeot got about 13% of its annual sales from Iran before suspending operations in 2012.

The company showed the door to 100,000 workers after leaving Iran. It lost 2 billion euros in 2012 and 2.3 billion euros in 2013 which forced the automaker to sell 30% of its shares to China’s Dongfeng Motor.

“We have to set preconditions for Peugeot’s return to ensure that it would not have the right to easily leave Iran under pressure from America or other countries,” a member of the Iranian Auto Parts Manufacturers Association Mohammad Reza Najafi-Manesh says.

By Press TV