France's auto giant PSA Group says it is pushing ahead with a plan to invest in Iran’s auto industry despite an increased anti-Iran rhetoric by the United States under President Donald Trump.
PSA Middle East chief Jean-Christophe Quemard was quoted by Reuters as saying that a hardened US stance against Tehran under Trump could even play to the carmaker's advantage.
He added that the renewed pressure from Washington against the Islamic Republic could probably extend PSA's lead as rivals hold back from re-entering the country.
"This is our opportunity to accelerate," he said. "It will become even harder for American companies to operate, that's for sure. We've opened up a lead and we plan to hold on to it."
Peugeot – a member of PSA Group – signed an agreement worth €400 million with key local player Iran Khodro last year for the joint production of 200,000 cars per year.
Citroen – another PSA Group member - also signed an agreement worth €300 million with another major local partner SAIPA for the production of 150,000 cars per year.
Iran Khodro CEO Hashem Yekezare had previously said that his company’s first joint project with the French auto giant – the Peugeot 2008 SUV – would be released to the Iranian market in March. Other reports also said that the next products - the 301 and the 208 models – would be released later. Reports also said that the first Citroën of the new generation is scheduled to be released to the Iranian market in early 2018.
Iran has the Middle East’s largest auto market with a population of 80 million. The automobile industry is seen as Iran’s biggest non-oil sector, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Iranian manufacturers produced 1.6 million automobiles in 2011, about half of them by Iran Khodro.
Reports said on Sunday that the total production of automobiles would reach as high as 1.3 million by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2017).