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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s major automaker SAIPA and Sharif University of Technology have started collaboration to design and develop electric vehicles.

Late last week, SAIPA’s CEO Seyyed Javad Soleimani conferred with Mahmoud Fotouhi, the university’s chancellor, in a videoconference and signed a deal to help prepare the ground for the presence of EVs in the country for the first time, the automaker’s website reported. 

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

In addition, SAIPA committed to tap the potential of university graduates and academia as project advisors. The company will also organize training courses for the elite 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 working 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.

During the online meeting, Soleimani emphasized that SAIPA is establishing comprehensive collaborations with research and academic centers working on EVs. 

“The taskforce can help pave the way for SAIPA’s scientific growth and development of management skills,” he added.

Fotouhi acknowledged SAIPA’s pursuit of scientific development for electric vehicle production and hoped that bilateral efforts will be constructive for both sides. 

Underlining the important position of Iran’s automotive industry in domestic economy, Fotouhi said the university is ready to play its role in the development of the sector. 



Iran Left Far Behind

Developing EVs and replacing fossil fuel-powered cars with vehicles running on clean energy have been high on the domestic 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, i.e., 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 long in the process of keeping their roads clean by reducing the number of fossil-fuel vehicles. 

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



Early Steps

The first move for paving the promotion of EVs in the country is by setting up charging stations. 

Local company MAPNA is working on establishing electric vehicle charging stations in all Iranian provinces by the fiscal yearend (March 2021), as an infrastructure for promoting zero emission vehicles in the country.

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

Iran’s first electric vehicle 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 EVs such as Kia, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

According to Aliabadi, the station also includes a 4.7-kv slow charger and a 5.5-kv charger that can be used by electric motorcycles.

The project in Mashhad is expected to conclude in the near future.

Aliabadi said the technology of producing electric vehicles is being taught in world universities for over 30 years now. 

The MAPNA chief 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.”

Last year in September, the domestic carmaker Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) expressed interest in utilizing the potentials of Iranian tech firms and knowledge-based companies to develop electric vehicles.

IKCO CEO Farshad Moqimi discussed the potentials of local tech firms for designing EVs in cooperation with the Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari.

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


Saipa electric vehicles Sharif University Technology