EghtesadOnline: The long-running debate over halting the production of SAIPA’s small car Pride has reignited, after Iran Traffic Police chief said license plates will not be issued for the vehicle as of March 2020.
On Thursday, General Kamal Hadianfar also told ISNA that based on a multilateral accord reached by SAIPA, the domestic carmaker that makes Pride, the Industries Ministry and Iran Traffic Police, the production line of the substandard and costly passenger vehicle will be disbanded within six months.
This is not the first time that the impending death of Pride hit the headlines. Policymakers and industry executives had earlier promised to halt its production and replace it with quality vehicles. However, these promises remain unfulfilled.
"Customers, who have already purchased SAIPA's Pride, will receive their vehicles by the end of the current Iranian year [March 2020], but license plates will not be issued for the model after the due date," Financial Tribune quoted Hadianfar as saying.
Pride was originally developed for Japanese and South Korean markets in the late 1980s. The car was widely sold in the United States as a Ford Festiva in the early 1990s. It entered the Iranian market in 1993 under license from Kia and has continued to be a cash cow for SAIPA.
Referring to a recent study conducted on Iranian road traffic accidents recorded over the past decade, the Traffic Police chief said Pride was involved in one-third of the fatalities.
Road accidents claimed 206,049 lives in the 11-year period ending March 2019, data from Iranian Legal Medicine Organization show. According to the research findings, up to 34% of the figure, constituting 70,056 victims, died in Pride.
“Speaking of driving safety, drivers’ adherence to traffic regulations is of the highest importance, but the quality of the vehicle also matters. Pride lacks the required standards of a regular passenger car and leads to an average of 3.8 deaths in each crash,” Hadianfar added.
As per reports by Iran Standard and Quality Inspection Company, the national body in charge of inspecting vehicle quality, Pride suffers from low quality and several safety failures. In fact, the car never earned more than one star in the organization’s five-star ranking system.
The model has been produced for more than two decades, until it was thrust into the limelight when the director of Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran publicly criticized the production of the inferior-quality model.
Three years ago, ISIRI and Iran’s Automotive Policymaking Council set new automotive standards and gave a two-year ultimatum to automakers to comply.
The production of vehicles that fail to comply with 83 automotive standards was supposed to be halted by the end of 2018.
SAIPA's Pride and Iran Khodro’s Peugeot 405 topped the elimination list.
However, when the deadline drew closer, carmakers started protesting about “the sudden imposition of stringent rules”.
Carmakers complained that if the new standards are imposed, they will be forced to shut down 70% of their production lines and lay off thousands of workers.
Despite the growing criticisms from environmentalists and the public against Pride production, former CEO of SAIPA, Mehdi Jamali, maintained that the production of the model will continue “as long as there is demand for the model”.
Pride remains a favorite as it is the cheapest car in Iran, sold at the company price of 373 million rials ($3,913). The vehicle is traded at 418 million rials ($3,634) in the open market.
SAIPA says it has sold over 7 million Prides since production started in 1993 in Iran. Pride is based on a Kia Motor hatchback from the 1980s. The South Korean firm ended the production of this car in 2000.