The second all-Iranian car, named Runna.
Iran Khodro Company has designed and manufactured the car and owns its intellectual property, reported the Mehr News Agency.
Iranian Automaker Bets on Natural Gas
GENEVA — Dear President Obama, I have good news. It turns out that mending relations with Iran isn’t so hard after all. Just remember to smile, ask intelligent questions, and at the end of the conversation suggest a road trip. Thanks to a little four-wheeled diplomacy, there is now an open invitation to visit Tehran and go cruising in an Iran Khodro sedan.
Despite Iran’s rich oil reserves, Iran Khodro, the country’s largest car company, displayed a sedan that runs on compressed natural gas.
In the back of the Green Pavilion here at the auto show is where I found the Iran Khodro Company (IKOC), Iran’s largest auto company, which is presenting a version of its Samand sedan that runs on compressed natural gas.
Based on a Peugeot chassis dating to the 1980s, the Samand is not going to win any beauty contests. It’s boxy and very basic. After poking and prodding at the cars, I struck up a conversation with Alireza Feyzbakhsh, Iran Khodro’s deputy president of export and international affairs.
Possibly amused at the interest this American was taking in the cars, he graciously explained some of the 40-year history of the company, its cooperation with Peugeot-Citroën, and the CNG engine. In Iran, a gallon of gasoline costs roughly 15 cents. So why would the Iran Khodro bother with alternative fuels?
“It’s cleaner, has less CO2 emissions … and promotes a good environmental situation,” explained Mr. Feyzbakhsh. It also doesn’t hurt that, as cheap as gasoline might be, in Iran natural gas is only a fraction of the price elsewhere. And while natural gas doesn’t offer the same power – the fuel is less energy dense than diesel or gasoline – the power loss isn’t extreme enough to be noticed in most driving situations.
“We have sold more than 500,000 CNG cars in Iran in two years,” said Mr. Feyzbakhsh. He added that the company sold 1.2 million vehicles last year, and exports to dozens of countries throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa. This is Iran Khodro’s first appearance in Geneva, and the company has just begun selling CNG Samands in Switzerland.
When asked if many American journalists has inquired about Iran Khodro during the show, or asked for a test drive at the company’s headquarters in Tehran, Mr. Feyzbakhsh couldn’t resist a good-natured laugh. “No, no. I definitely have not had any American journalists coming over.” But I was welcome to visit anytime, he politely added. “It would be a pleasure to show you my country as it really is.”