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EghtesadOnline: Despite the reinstatement of US sanctions against Iran's key automotive industry, a joint venture between China's SAIC Motor and Farda Automobile Manufacturing Co (FAM Co) has started operation in Semnan with the inauguration of a production line for the SUV model MG RX5.

While Iranian carmakers collaborations with French automotive groups Renault and Peugeot-Citroen have been hindered by the imposition of US sanctions, unperturbed by the United States' belligerence SAIC Motor has just launched a production line in the city of Semnan, 180 km to the east of the capital Tehran.

Industries Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari took a trip to Semnan on Wednesday to open the production line at FAM Co's Farda Auto Factory. FAM Co is privately owned.

The vehicle will come with MG Motor badge which is a subsidiary of SAIC Motor. SAIC is one of the largest Chinese automotive companies which is headquartered in Shanghai, China, with multinational operations, Financial Tribune reported.

FAM Co plans to import the SUV as semi-knocked-down (SKD) kits to Iran and completes the production at its Semnan-based factory.

>Model's Specs

The vehicle comes with either a 1.5-liter engine with a 7-speed automatic transmission (1.5T version) or a 2.0-liter engine with a 6-speed automatic gearbox (2.0T version), both turbocharged.

The front-wheel-drive MG RX5 is available with LED headlamps, two-tone 18-inch rims, opening panoramic sunroof, adjustable fold-flat rear seats with split/fold function, power tailgate, keyless entry, a start button and an auto-hold brake function.

A remote smart app peered with the car allows the driver to operate vehicle functions such as remote start and stop air conditioning, vehicle tracking and after-sales appointments, even reminding owners of the services needed for the car.

There is a 10.4-inch high-definition infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and navigation on the 2.0T version and an 8-inch color navigation system for 1.5T models.

The MG RX5 comes with standard electronic stability control and traction control. Passive safety features include a body structure that uses thermally formed steel, multiple airbags, automatic unlocking in the event of a collision and a collapsible steering column, all of which have helped the MG RX5 earn a 5-star rating in the Chinese C-NCAP crash tests.

The vehicle is priced at $14,428 in neighboring UAE. FAM Co is yet to announce a price tag for the model in Iran.

>Silver Lining

Farda car plant, which formerly was owned by Iran Khodro, was sold to a private company in 2013 as part of the behemoth's efforts to downsize, cut overheads and improve profitability.

FAM Co was officially inaugurated in April 2017 by President Hassan Rouhani. The factory has been built with the private investment of 1.1 trillion rials ($10.97 million).

With IKCO and SAIPA's production output on a steady decline since US President Donald Trump reneged on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the private sector can take the helm and usher in a new era for the country's auto market.

Rumor has it that the company is to produce the MG3, the MG ZS and the MG6 in the near future.

What is known for sure is that Farda will produce five more vehicles through its joint venture with SAIC Motor in the next four years.


Iran US sanctions SAIC Motor automotive industry Farda Automobile Manufacturing FAM