Ambitious Iran JV Envisages Electric Vehicle Production
EghtesadOnline: Major Iranian automaker SAIPA forged an agreement with MAPNA Group this week to develop and commercialize electric vehicles in the hope of reducing fossil fuel consumption and curbing air pollution in megacities.
Abbas Aliabadi, the managing director of MAPNA, and Seyyed Javad Soleimani, CEO of SAIPA, signed an ambitious deal on Wednesday for designing and manufacturing parts, making prototypes, conducting tests and commercializing electric vehicles, Saipanews.com reported.
During his visit to SAIPA's Research Center, Aliabadi pointed to the company's efforts on upgrading their production technology and said, "A totally different future awaits the company when EV production starts."
The MAPNA chief, however, did not mention a timeframe for the EV production, according to Financial Tribune.
Around the world, major automotive companies are moving toward curbing the production of fossil-fuel-powered cars and replacing such models with electric hybrids and EVs. Iranian carmaker SAIPA has also jumped on the bandwagon.
“SAIPA has understood the importance of switching from gasoline-burning to electric vehicles. By relying on local potentials and technology, the production of electric cars can reduce fossil fuel consumption and consequently help curb air pollution," he said.
The two sides will establish a team of experts, sharing their technological knowledge and expertise to manufacture electric cars conforming to global standards.
MAPNA is a group of Iranian companies specializing in different fields, including thermal and renewable power plants, oil and gas, rail transportation, electrical generator, turbine blade and vane, conventional boilers, electric and control systems, gas compressor and locomotives.
MAPNA has been striving to prepare the infrastructures for developing EVs since Iran’s push for electric vehicles started when President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013.
In May 2019, the group opened Iran’s first electric vehicle charging station at Tehran's iconic Milad Tower.
Built over 700 square meters, the station in the northwest of the capital includes a 43-kilovolt alternating current (AC) charger plus a fast charger working under the Chademo Protocol, a trade name of a quick charging method for electric vehicles, which suits Japanese and Korean EV producers such as KIA, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
The station also includes a 4.7-kv slow charger and a 5.5-kv charger, which can be used by electric motorcycles, Aliabadi told the media at the time.
The MAPNA chief expressed his company's readiness to collaborate with bus manufacturers and Tehran Taxi Organization to upgrade the ramshackle transport system with the help of new EV technology.
“Installed power capacity has reached 81,000 megawatts and it is high time to invest in EVs," he added, urging local carmakers to pay more attention to EVs.
Despite their increasing popularity worldwide, EVs are still a novel concept in Iran’s huge car market.
Not the First Effort
MAPNA is not the first institution in the country giving EV production a shot.
Earlier in January 2017, a domestically-made electric car and two electric motorbikes were unveiled in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani at the presidential complex in Tehran.
The two-seater micro-electric vehicle 'Yooz' was test-driven by the president on the occasion marking National Clean Air Day (Jan. 19).
The Yooz quadricycle was designed and developed by engineers at Parax Company, affiliated to Islamic Azad University's Qazvin branch. The company specializes in designing small electric cars.
The two-seat battery-powered EV is 120 centimeters wide and two meters long. Its small size can help reduce parking problems in the major urban areas.
It weighs 400 kilograms and can cruise for 200 kilometers at 80 k/h on a three-hour charge. The car's maximum speed is 100 k/h and as far as looks go, Yooz closely resembles Renault's zero-emission quadricycle Twizy.
The Yooz does not seem to be for sale currently. Online search for the vehicle gives no clue as to whether the small car will be commercially available.
At the same event, an electric motorcycle 'Avita' was also unveiled. The motorbike was built at the Shahid Rezaei Research Center affiliated to Sharif University of Technology.
An electric motorcycle manufactured by the knowledge-based company Bana Sharif was also displayed at the event.
Bana Sharif is a joint venture set up by Sharif University of technology and Jahanro Company that manufactures motorbikes. The company manufactures electric cars, hybrid cars and electric motorcycles.
Developing EVs and replacing fossil fuel-powered cars with vehicles running on clean energy have been high on carmakers’ agenda worldwide, with leading carmakers investing billions in R&D and governments offering incentives for promoting the production of such cars.
However, Iranian officials have failed to invest in EV development and in the infrastructure for rolling out EVs. The new moves are expected to push the domestic automotive industry at least a step forward in the field.