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EghtesadOnline: The global electric vehicle race has reached Iran, as the domestic engineering and energy giant, MAPNA Group, and major automaker Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) are gearing up to jointly produce EVs.

After successfully testing 20 EV prototypes in June, MAPNA has joined hands with IKCO to mass produce electric vehicles, the group’s website reported.

Farshad Moqimi, the head of IKCO, reviewed the prototypes and different EV development labs at MAPNA on Sunday and met Abbas Aliabadi, the CEO of the engineering group, to discuss the details of their collaboration.

Considering the investments made in the field and tapping into MAPNA’s potentials, IKCO can speed up its move toward EV production.

Aliabadi said, “MAPNA hopes to boost Iran’s auto supply chain. The simultaneous development of software and hardware is the basis of developing electric vehicles. Local production of all parts is high on MAPNA’s agenda. Although the work is still in the preliminary stage, we have made headways.”

Underlining the necessity of serious and hard work for manufacturing electronic vehicles in Iran, Aliabadi emphasized that even if the domestic automakers show reluctance, MAPNA will continue to tread the path it has embarked on. 

Since last summer, IKCO expressed interest in utilizing the potentials of Iranian tech firms and knowledge-based companies for entering the field.

The automaker also discussed the capabilities of local tech firms for designing EVs, in cooperation with the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology.

Moqimi said IKCO is keen on backing knowledge-based companies active in automotive industries.



Early Measures

MAPNA is the first local company to pave the way for the advent of EVs in the country by setting up charging stations. 

The company is working on establishing EV charging stations in all Iranian provinces by the fiscal yearend (March 2021), as a vital infrastructure for promoting zero emission vehicles in the country.

According to Aliabadi, Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province is the second city to house an electric charging station following the pioneering launch in Tehran.

Iran’s first EV charging station was set up at Tehran’s Milad Tower in May 2019 by MAPNA. 

Built over 700 square meters, the station includes a 43-kilovolt alternating current 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 South Korean EV brands such as Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

The station also includes a 4.7-kv slow charger and a 5.5-kv charger that can be used by electric motorcycles.

Aliabadi noted that the technology of producing electric vehicles is being taught in world universities for over 30 years now. He expressed his company's readiness to collaborate with car manufacturers and Tehran Taxi Organization to upgrade the country’s transport system with the help of EV technology.

“It is high time to invest in EVs," he declared, urging local carmakers to pay more attention to EVs.

Adding that the group has already started working on EV technology, Aliabadi said, “MAPNA has been working to bridge the technological gap, especially concerning the capacity of car batteries. Fortunately, noticeable progress has been made, but still more investment should be made in producing batteries.”



SAIPA’s Plans

Local media reports announced that Iran’s other major automaker SAIPA has made similar moves in the domestic auto sector, by starting collaboration with Sharif University of Technology for designing and developing electric vehicles.

Early in August, SAIPA’s CEO Seyyed Javad Soleimani and Mahmoud Fotouhi, the university’s chancellor, signed a deal to help prepare the ground for the manufacture of EVs in the country for the first time.

Based on the deal, a joint taskforce is to be set up to devise projects for designing EV prototypes and conducting tests.

In addition, SAIPA committed to tap the potential of university graduates and academia as project advisors. The company also agreed to hold training courses for top university students and graduates, giving them an opportunity to work with senior professionals in the production, engineering and management divisions of SAIPA.

The university also agreed to hold sessions to introduce new scientific and technological strategies to the automaker’s managers and staff. In addition, the university offered its archive of articles and laboratory space and equipment to help SAIPA strengthen its technical and scientific capabilities for producing EVs.



Global Race

Developing EVs and replacing fossil fuel-powered cars with vehicles running on clean energy have been high on the carmakers’ agenda around the globe, with leading carmakers investing billions in research and development, and governments offering incentives for promoting the production and sale of such cars.

In addition to common challenges facing the global EV markets, Iranian officials and automakers need to establish the infrastructure using diverse technologies related to power equipment, electric motors, control systems and batteries.

Jean Christophe Quemard, the executive vice president of PSA Group—a French multinational manufacturer of automobiles sold under the Peugeot, Citroen and Opel brands, said last year that while the global automotive industry is undergoing profound changes, it seems that Iranian automotive companies and policymakers have little interest in autonomous or electric vehicles.

Quemard was of the opinion that the changes will eventually reach Iran.

Demand for clean energy is gradually gaining traction both in the developed and developing world. 

Besides shifting to eco-friendly fuel and renewable energy, nations are interested in keeping their environment clean by reducing the number of fossil-fuel vehicles. 

Countries leading the campaign for clean energy are China, Germany, the UK, Norway and France.


IKCO Iran Khodro electric vehicles MAPNA