SAIPA, Iran’s second largest carmaker, launched two assembly lines on Tuesday in cooperation with China’s Brilliance Auto.
The Iranian auto manufacturer and its subsidiary Pars Khodro have joined hands with Brilliance Auto to assemble and market in Iran the latter’s H230 and H330 compact sedans, along with hatchback variants, said Yu Yuanhai, General Manger of Brilliance Auto’s Iran Project.
SAIPA plans to produce about 30,000 cars in the first year of cooperation, while the assembly lines, built with technical support from Brilliance Auto, have an annual capacity of over 100,000 cars, Yu said.
Brilliance Auto provides auto parts and technology to SAIPA for assembling the sedans, he added.
In a SAIPA plant, about 15 km to the west of Tehran, Iranian workers are assembling H230 sedans together with Chinese engineers. The H330 model will be assembled in Pars Khodro.
The H230 and H330 series, priced between US$11,000-$16,000, look promising in the Iranian market with more than 5,000 cars presold even before the assemblies were unveiled Tuesday, said Zhao Yan, a spokesman for Brilliance Auto’s Iran project.
Iran produced about 1.1 million automobiles last year, up 46.7% year-on-year, according to statistics from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. Iran Khodro (not Pars Khodro) and SAIPA, the top two manufacturers, account for more than 90% of the country’s total output.
Iran, with its large market and solid manufacturing infrastructure, offers great opportunity for Chinese car makers to establish joint ventures, Yu said.
In addition, Yu sees big potential in the already considerable Iranian market. “If sanctions could be lifted, growth would be explosive with much easier shipping, transaction and higher demand,” he said.
Before Brilliance Auto, other Chinese automakers, including Cherry, Lifan and Jianghuai, have gotten a foothold in the Iranian market. Cars like the MVM, a made-in-Iran version of the QQ hatchback and the JAC J5, known for Italian design and its being economical, run alongside Peugeot 206s and Toyota Landcruisers on the streets of Tehran.
Chinese automakers are expected to boost their share of the Iranian market from 1% in 2011 to 9% in 2016, according to IHS Automotive. Most Chinese carmakers work with local partners that build cars in Iran.