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French Automakers Suffer As They Lose Iran Market


IRAN -- Thierry Bollore (R), deputy director of Competitiveness at Renault, and Iranian Minister of Industry Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh attend a press conference following a signing of a deal ceremony in Tehran on August 7, 2017

French automaker Renault says its automotive division revenues declined 8.4% to a little more than €10 billion ($11.41 billion) in the third quarter of 2018, due to decreasing registrations in emerging markets as well as Iran, where the company’s activity was stopped due to reimposed US sanctions.

Iran was an important market for Renault, because even with zero auto export in the third quarter, its whole export to Iran was 96,000 autos during the January-June period, making Iran the 9th biggest market for the French automaker.

Another French major, PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars also announced June 4 that it is stopping cooperation with Iran. The company sold 440,000 vehicles to Iran last year, sharing above 12% of its overall sales.

Tens of foreign companies have left Iran after US withdrew in May from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Without foreign partners, the country’s domestic auto makers have faced production cuts. They depend heavily on foreign technology as well as imported auto parts.

According figures published by the ministry of industry mines and trade, the country’s total auto production declined 46% in the sixth months of current Iranian fiscal year (March 21-September 22), while the total production in the first half of fiscal year (March 21-September 22) had decreased by just 15% to 686,687 cars.

Source: Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, Iran’s fiscal year starts on March 21
ImportsFirst half of current fiscal year

Y/Y change

Last fiscal yearY/Y change
Iran’s auto imports$392 million-68%$1.839 billion-8%
Iran’s auto parts imports$1.86 billion25%$4.06 billion108%

According to International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), Iran ranked as 12th biggest automaker globally with above 1.418 million cars and 96, 846 commercial vehicles produced in 2017, which grew 18.19% year-on-year. Auto industry is the country’s biggest industrial sector after oil.

Iran’s car and commercial vehicle production since 2010:
Iran’s car and commercial vehicle production since 2010:

Source: OICA

During the last round of sanctions (2012-2015) Iran’s auto production also declined significantly, but gradually rebounded after JCPOA was signed and international sanctions were lifted in 2016.

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