Iran to Launch 'Islamic Car'

Automaker Irankhodro said project would begin in March 2008.

Iran is to lead the production of a new vehicle dubbed the "Islamic car" targeting Muslim markets and to be built only in Islamic states, its largest auto manufacturer Irankhodro said on Dec. 12. "The Islamic car is a joint brand among member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) targeting Muslim markets and aimed at boosting their economy and industry," Irankhodro chief executive Manouchehr Manteghi said.

He added that delegations from the OIC, Turkey, and the Malaysian automaker Proton would meet in Tehran in January to prepare the framework of the project, which would later be debated at an OIC summit in March 2008.

"If it is adopted by the OIC, the project will be launched in March 2008 and take three years to complete at an estimated cost of $200 to $500 million," Manteghi said of the vehicle, which is yet to be designed.

He explained that the platform would be in either Iran or Malaysia and that Irankhodro would lead the project. "But any Muslim states which are interested will be welcome to join and have a share in the production."

Proton's managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir had in November described the Islamic car as fitted with a compass to find the direction of Mecca and a compartment to keep the Koran. But Manteghi said the Islamic features would come as "added options" to the car, which will be "presentable anywhere."

The state-owned Irankhodro is the largest car manufacturer in the Middle East with an annual production of about 550,000 units including Iran's flagship Samand, Peugeot 206 and Peugeot Pars, which is a face-lifted 405.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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