EghtesadOnline: Gasoline consumption has reached an unprecedented average of 90 million liters per day and substandard cars are definitely the major contributors to the worsening air pollution and related problems, former deputy director of the Majlis Research Center said Tuesday.
"If all domestically-made cars are sent to the scrap yard and replaced by foreign brands, gasoline consumption will decrease by as much as 40 million liters per day," Mohammadreza Mohammadkhani was quoted as saying by IRNA.
According to data released by Iran Standards and Quality Inspection Company none of the locally-made cars were found fit for Energy Label A (the most efficient). The quality of eight brands was so poor that they were not even given Energy Label G (the least efficient).
ISQI officials have warned that half of the locally manufactured cars will not be entitled to any energy label until their companies take effective measures to improve the quality of their vehicles, Financial Tribune reported.
"Forcing people to drive fuel-intensive vehicles and accusing them of wasting fuel is unfair," the former official of the prominent parliamentary think tank said.
Strongly criticizing the poor and unacceptable performance of the semi-state owned local carmakers, Mohammadkhani said, “Not only do Iranian companies produce substandard cars, they also jack up prices at their wish and whim.”
It is startling that car prices have at least doubled over the past six months while their quality has not improved changed a bit. Strangely enough, the same poor quality cars sell like hot cakes and there is a near permanent shortage of new vehicles.
Energy experts and policymakers have made a variety of proposals to curb gasoline consumption, one of which is raising prices and rationing fuel. Nonetheless, they all seem to be oblivious of the bitter fact that the main culprit behind the problem is the mass production of cars with consumption levels far exceeding international standards.
The former parliamentary official is of the opinion that car owners should not be obliged to compensate for the disaster caused by the upstart and irresponsible automakers.
"True, gasoline consumption is high. But consumers should not be blamed," Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has been quoted as saying, stressing that the problem lies somewhere else.
"I have said time and again that the solution to the crippling economic problem must be sought in car factories," he noted.
The minister believes that compelling car manufacturers to comply with international standards can and should be a more efficient way to curb the high and rising consumption rates instead of raising prices at the pumps, which will have inflationary effects.
According to IRNA, domestic cars burn as much as 8 liters of fuel on average per 100 kilometers. In the EU states, with stringent pollution laws, the mileage is as low as 5 liters.
Vehicle ownership per 1,000 people is 200 in Iran and 600 in Germany, but is rather baffling that gasoline consumption in the latter is almost the same as the former.
The National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company started exporting gasoline to international markets early this month. However, energy experts have warned that the government will have to import the fuel sooner or later unless the present consumption patterns change.
Daily gasoline production in Iran has exceeded 100 million liter, of which 76 million complies with Euro-4 and 5 emission standards.
According to the NIORDC boss, Alireza Sadeqabadi, an average of 90 million liters of gasoline is burnt in the country every day or 1.12 liters per capita. The figure is 1.08, 0.91, 0.42, 0.22 and 0.05 in Malaysia, Russia, Brazil, China and India respectively.
"Presently, supply exceeds demand by 10 million liter per day, but with the current consumption pattern, the latter will surpass the former by 200 million liters in 2033," he said.
There is no denying that fuel consumption in Iran is over and above global standards. All said, there is no way out of this vicious cycle unless the arrogant and monopolistic automakers plus their backers come to their senses and pull the plug on fuel-intensive vehicles.