A year ago, TTAC broke news of back channel overtures being made towards Iran on behalf of General Motors. A number of Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles made their way to Iran via a complicated logistics network and the importations were of dubious legality. But the event highlighted a sentiment in the auto industry that few are willing to openly discuss: the BRIC countries, once the darlings of the emerging markets, have already been exhausted. The search for new markets is on, and that means places like Africa and Iran. And Cuba could be next.
After a six-month self-imposed hiatus, Renault has begun shipping “a very low volume” of parts overland to Iran for vehicle assembly.
For the past few months, sanctions against Iran for their nuclear ambitions have sidelined PSA and Renault from the Persian market. Behind the scenes, General Motors outmaneuvered PSA despite their one-time alliance allowing them to muscle their way into aan emerging market via loophole abuse and an unknown quantity of Camaros. With GM out of the way, however, PSA would now be free to regain their footing once sanctions were lifted.
PSA won’t be alone in the upcoming battle, of course, as their compatriots at Renault have plans to return to Iran to reclaim what was lost, and then some.
Weeks prior to the historic deal reached between Iran and the “P5+1″ group of nations, TTAC reported on some of the machinations going on behind the scenes regarded the United States, France and their respective auto industries ability to do business in Iran. We put forth the theory that any deal with Iran would be a boon to auto manufacturers, who would have access to a market expected to be worth 1.5 million units in a few short years, with a very young population and a standard of living that is substantially better than many highly touted emerging markets.
At the time of publication, we encountered significant dismissal, if not disagreement. But as it turned out, negotiations had been ongoing since the start of 2013, and the preliminary deal appears to make the auto industry a big winner.
An obscure story in the Azerbaijani press this past summer may be the tip of a much larger iceberg involving General Motors, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the Western World’s current bete noir: the Iranian regime currently embroiled at the heart of a controversial nuclear program, which is subject to economic sanctions by the United States government, including those that specifically target Iran’s automotive industry.
Citing reports from Iran’s Mehr news agency, an Azerbaijani news outlet reported that an unspecified number of brand new Chevrolet Camaro RS 2LT convertibles were imported by a division of Iranian conglomerate Iran Khodro. According to the report, the Camaros were sent from Miami to Paris, and then from Paris to Tehran via a Qatar Airways plane. The report also states that US Customs and Border Patrol documents list the final destination as the Aras Free Trade and Industrial Zone.
While Russia, Indonesia, Brazil and even Burma get the majority of the car industry’s attention when it comes to emerging markets, Iraq is also considered to be an up-and-coming place to sell cars. Iraqis have a funny habit of enjoying cars that are linked to foreign armies; American cars are fairly popular in the country, and so are Iranian machines too.
The last time we went to Iran with Best Selling Cars Around The Globe was in April 2011 – in other words an eternity because at that time I didn’t have access to official production figures, so it’s time for a thorough update.
Not into 80s Peugeots and Kias (yes that’s what the Iranians buy)? That’s ok, you can discover the best-selling models in 167 additional countries and territories in my blog. Or today I can also offer you the Top 277 best-selling models in the USA over the first 9 months 2012…
Back to Iran.
Sanctions imposed on Iran by the EU and the United States have compelled PSA to delay parts shipments to Iran Khodro until September at the earliest.
Even as the EU sanctions continue to add up, Iran’s national car maker is going in the opposite direction. Iran Khodro is set to launch a new engine family that will comply with the latest Euro-IV emissions regulations for use in their Peugeot-based models.