EghtesadOnline: Hot on the heels of the recent announcement by SAIPA group–Iran’s second largest car company–that it signed a new deal with PSA Group’s Citroen brand, a subsidiary of the Iranian company, Pars Khodro, announced it will unveil another vehicle made by Renault.
Iran’s automotive industry in the past eight months has worked tirelessly to develop an updated range of vehicles, considering the Auto Policymaking Council’s new regulations banning the production of domestic vehicles older than 10 years and imported vehicles older than seven years.
It’s another thing that Iranian automakers have ignored these regulations and are churning out the clunkers like nobody’s business.
However, now that sanctions obstructing their interactions with international firms have been removed, they have signed several deals to produce in Iran new models of Peugeot, Citroen and Renault, along with several other brands from China.
The new vehicle under the Pars Khodro brand, the Sandero Stepway—a higher chassis model of the best-selling low-cost Sandero hatchback (already selling in Iran), could open up a market for the subsidiary company that aims to take on its larger competitors like IKCO and part-parent company SAIPA with its growing range of vehicles.
Cost and Affordability
The Sandero Stepway is estimated to cost around 600 million rials ($17,000), almost twice as much as the international price, according to Persian Khodro on September 2.
The car takes the standard Sandero body with its roomy interior and adds a higher driving experience and more rugged exterior, but not the full 4x4 car experience one would expect with the price increase.
According to international websites, foreign versions of the car will get a 0.9-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, which according to WhatCar is “acceptably powerful” but won’t blow your socks off.
In addition, the Stepway supposedly rides more comfortably than the standard version of the car partly because it has had its suspension raised with longer springs to soak up those bumps on Iran’s non-standard streets, according to Financial Tribune.
What sets it apart from the regular Sandero are the black body cladding around the wheel arches and bumpers, as well as a set of roof rails that give the vehicle a more rugged appearance.
Reliability and Safety
For reliability, the car has received a two-star rating from a maximum of five stars by the site, which doesn’t bode well for its reliability in the rough and tumble driving atmosphere in Iranian cities.
The Sandero also got a comparatively disappointing four stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. Britain’s Security expert Thatcham awarded the car four out of five for resisting being stolen, but only two out of five for resisting being broken into.
Pars Khodro neither states what guarantee comes with the vehicle, nor the possibility of getting an immobilizer.
Dates and Delivery
Pars Khodro announced to the Iranian website on September 2 that the new version of the vehicle will be released in the coming weeks, with some sources speculating that the company will release the vehicle for general sale on September 21 to coincide with Eid Al-Ghadir public holiday.
Iran’s national online car ordering portal, Iranecar.com, still does not list the vehicle among the range of SAIPA vehicles, with only the E2 variant available for a deposit of 250 million rials, while the full price in the open market, according to Bama.ir—a local auto sales website, is 470 million rials.
The company will unveil the car through selected outlets across the country in the next few weeks, but there is no specified date for the delivery of the vehicle as of yet.
Pars Khodro, most recently famous for its deal with Chinese car company Brilliance to produce three of its models, namely the H220, H230 and H320 range of small cars, has had a remarkable sales pattern.
The car company has also recently begun the production of Renault’s Koleos and a rebadged Dacia Sandero under the Renault moniker.
Sales of the Stepway’s sister vehicle, the Sandero, have been steady since its release in the local market in May 2015.
At the release of that car, Financial Tribune reported that plans have been made to go beyond the local market. The company’s CEO, Saeed Madani, said, “for manufacturing to be economically viable, we need to target the region’s market of 400 million people”.